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D D 



VANISHED 
SUPREMACIES 

ESSAYS ON EUROPEAN HISTORY, 1812-1918 

SIR LEWIS NAMIER 



HARPER TORCHBOOKS 

TKe Academy Library Harper & Row, Publishers 
New York and Evanston 



HARPER TORCHBOOKS / THE ACADEMY LIBRARY 

Advisory Editor in the Humanities and 

Social Sciences: Benjamin Nelson 



VANISHED SUPREMACIES. Printed in the United States of America. 

FIRST PUBLISHED IN 1958 BY HAMISH HAMILTON LTD., LONDON, AND REPRINTED 
BY ARRANGEMENT. 

FIRST HARPER TORCHBOQK EDITION PUBLISHED 1963 

BY HARPER & ROW, PUBLISHERS, INCORPORATED 
NEW YORK AND EVANSTON 



INTRODUCTION 

FOR forty years I have wanted to write a history of Europe 1812- 
1918, and I studied various aspects of it in days when Europe was 
still supreme in the world. But circumstances were against the 
scheme, and the best years I had for historical research were taken 
up by work on British Parliamentary history and on pre-1939 diplo- 
macy; and now, at the age of nearly seventy, I see the rest of my 
working life under a heavy mortgage to the History of Parliament, 
and to further work on materials which I have been collecting for it 
most of my life. With the darkness of old age rapidly advancing, I 
can hardly hope to return to my other pet scheme. But my main 
ideas on the subject I have developed in various essays, almost all of 
them out of print ; these are now gathered in the first volume of my 
Collected Essays. 

Work on the eighteenth century Parliament I started before 1914, 
on European history during the First World War. The essays in this 
volume are arranged chronologically, but the earliest is that on c The 
Downfall of the Habsburg Monarchy', the fruit of war- work in 
Intelligence Departments, first under, and next in, the Foreign 
Office: it is remarkable how much perception is sharpened when the 
work serves a practical purpose of absorbing interest. I recommend 
a reading of the essay to those who regret the destruction of the 
Habsburg Monarchy, and imagine that a federation of free and 
equal nations could have been established within a framework of 
which national supremacies were the sense and justification. 

While a lecturer at Balliol, 1919-21, 1 took up the study of 1848; 
and I resumed the work towards the end of the Second World War; 
my Raleigh Lecture at the British Academy in 1944 was on '1848: 
the Revolution of the Intellectuals'. Expanded into a book, more 
than twice the length of 'The Downfall of the Habsburg Monarchy \ 
and reprinted several times, it is omitted from this collection; which 
includes, however, the paper reviewing the story of 1 848 from the 
angle of 'Nationality and Liberty', presented to the Tenth 'Volta' 
Conference of the Accadernia Nationale dei Lincei in 1948. Lastly, 



vi INTRODUCTION 

the Creighton Lecture in History, delivered at London University ii 
1952, 'Basic Factors in Nineteenth-Century European History' 
reviews and sums up the theme of the book. Taken as a whole, thi 
collection is the nearest substitute I can offer for the continuou; 
narrative which was originally intended. 

L. B. NAMIER 

60 The Grampians, 

London, W.6. 

21 October 1957 



ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS 

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS are due to Messrs. Macmillan and Co, for 
permission to reprint essays I, II, and the first three essays here 
grouped together as IX, from In the Margin of History (1939) and 
III from Skyscrapers (1931); and to the Oxford University Press 
and Messrs. Hodder & Stoughton for permission to reprint X from 
A History of the Peace Conference of Paris, edited by Professor 
Harold Temperley (1921). Of the remaining essays in this book, IV, 
V, VI, VIII, IX (4), and XII come from Avenues of History (1952), 
VII from Facing East (1947) and XI from Personalities and Powers 
(1955)- 



CONTENTS 

I. THE END OF NAPOLEON i 

1. 'My Health is Good, my Affairs are going well' 

(1812-13) 

2. 'La Degringolade' (1814) 

3. A St. Helena Journal 

4. Napoleon II 

II. TALLEYRAND 9 

III. METTERNICH 13 

IV. PRINCESS LIEVEN 17 
V. 1848: SEED-PLOT OF HISTORY 21 

VI. NATIONALITY AND LIBERTY 31 

VII. THE FIRST MOUNTEBANK DICTATOR 54 

VIII. UNE AMITIE AMOUREUSE 65 

IX. MEN WHO FLOUNDERED INTO THE WAR 77 

1. Prince von Biilow 

2. Conrad von Hotzendorf 

3. Count Stephen Tisza 

4. Herr von Kuhlmann 

X. THE DOWNFALL OF THE HABSBURG 

MONARCHY 112 

XI. BASIC FACTORS IN NINETEENTH-CENTURY 

EUROPEAN HISTORY 165 

XII. THF GERMAN FINALE TO AN EPOCH IN 

TORY 176 



I 
THE END OF NAPOLEON 



I. MY HEALTH IS GOOD, MY AFFAIRS ARE 
GOING WELL' (1812-1813) 

THE first long absence of Napoleon from Marie Louise occurred 
during the Russian campaign of 1812; some ninety of his letters to 
her 1 cover its six months that is, there are about fifteen to a month 
most of them impersonal, empty letters, from a self-centred man 
absorbed in his work. He cares for the woman who has her place in 
his world scheme, the daughter of emperors, the mother of 'the 
little King' (thus Napoleon almost invariably refers to his son, aged 
one). Where advice has to be given it is attentive, clear, and detailed, 
like his army orders or decrees, but there is never any intimate talk 
between the two. The disparity is probably too great, the personal 
element in him seems lost; in the immensity of action he has for- 
feited his human existence. Words of endearment, significantly, ap- 
pear as a rule in the language of his early youth: e mio dolce amore,' 
e mio bene.* Many a letter reads as if the writer was at a loss how to 
fill the sheet of paper; so little has he to tell her about himself that 
even short letters are often padded with speculations about her 
where she is, what she is doing, what she has experienced. Besides, 
there are weather reports to fall back upon: dust, excessive heat, 
rain, a beautiful autumn, and in the end the cold, the intolerable 
cold. These bulletins, trite and awkward in themselves, become grue- 
some as they pipe the man and his army to their doom. And there 
enters into that unconscious dirge a stereotyped phrase, which ap- 
pears first in a letter from Kovno, on 26 June 1812: 'My health is 
good, my affairs are going well.' Indifferent to begin with and de- 
void of contents, it becomes fixed while the campaign is moving 
towards its crisis -a painted smile, a mask, which in its incongruity 
1 The Letters of Napoleon to Marie Louise, ed. Charles de la Ronci&re, 



2 VANISHED SUPREMACIES 

gives an ironic, lugubrious, and finally a frantic turn to the scene 
On 3 September Napoleon writes from Gat: 

I am leaving tonight to advance in the direction of Moscow. We ar< 

in autumn here The granaries are full, the earth is covered witr 

vegetables; consequently the troops are well, which is a great point 
My affairs are going well. My health is good. . . . 

He has repeated the phrase for the thirtieth time. On 14 Septembei 
Napoleon reaches Moscow, and on the i6th the city and his plans 
vanish in a sea of flames. The phrase is forgotten; it recurs in twc 
letters of 20 September, but fades out again during the fatal weeks 
of hesitation at Moscow. 'My health is good' (and nothing about 
his affairs) this is the formula used in seven letters between 2 1 Sep- 
tember and 4 October. And then, in one of the last letters from 
Moscow: 

Write to your father frequently. Send him special couriers ; advise 
him to reinforce Schwarzenberg's Corps, so that it may be a credit 
to him. 

Napoleon begins to talk business to his big doll in Paris, and seeks 
to secure help through her; the thing is unpleasant, almost painful. 
The retreat has started, and the formula about his health and affairs 
reappears, but only four times, last on 3 November. On 26 October 
Napoleon writes, 'I share your desire to see the end of all this'; and 
on 20 November, C I am in good health and drawing nearer to you*. 
Now he has reached the Beresina. 

24 November: The weather is cold. . . . My health is very good. 
26 November: My health is very good, the cold is very great. 
28 November: My health is perfect, the weather very bad and 
very cold. 

i December: The weather is very cold, my health is very good. 

And in the last letter from Russia, dated 5 December: 

You will have seen in the Army Orders that things have [not?] 
gone as well as I would have wished, yet affairs are not going badly 
just now. . . . Live in hope and do not worry. 

What does the omission of the fi not 3 signify? Usually mistakes of this 
kind disclose the truth which the writer meant to hide. Napoleon for 
once intended to tell the truth and finished with a lie. 

Another six months, from April to November 1813 Napoleon's 
last campaign in Germany more than a hundred letters. The old 
formula reappears and is repeated twenty-two times in five months, 



THE END OF NAPOLEON 3 

up to the Battle of Leipzig. But Marie Louise is constantly urged to 
write to 'Papa Francois ', to inform him, to plead with him. Austria 
holds the key to the European position. 

2 May : Write and tell Papa Francois not to allow himself to be 
led away by the hatred his wife bears us, that it would be fatal to 
himself and the source of many calamities, . . . 

5 May : Papa Francois is not behaving very well . . . 

14 May: People are trying to mislead Papa Frangois. Metternich 
is a mere intriguer. 

27 June : I want peace, but it must be an honourable one. 

7 July : If they attempt to impose shameful terms upon me., I will 
make war upon them. Austria will pay for it all. 

17 August: Deceived by Metternichj your father has sided with my 
enemies. 

1 8 August: Do not worry too much about your father's conduct. 

In this second stage, while Napoleon is trying to work through 
Marie Louise, the correspondence gains in contents and acquires 
something of a human touch. 

And next: 1814. The Empire has disappeared, France is invaded, 
the faith and awe which surrounded Napoleon's person are gone- 
a dead scene with a cold aftermath. A fortnight before the final 
catastrophe, on 17 March 1814, Napoleon writes from Rheims to 
Marie Louise; 

MA BONNE LOUISE. I have received your letter. I hope the 
weather in Paris is as fine as it is in Rheims. It will be very con- 
venient for your outings and will do good for your health. Give a kiss 
to the King and never doubt the love I bear you. 

Ton 

NAP. 

When the end has come he appeals to the woman, his wife, the 
mother of his son, to join him. The doll hesitates for a moment, and 
then there is no reply. 



2, 'LA DEGRINGOLADE' (1814) 

THE story of March and April 1814, of Napoleon's defeat and 
abdication, can be summed up in the word ( la ctegringolade', which 
in colloquial English means e how everything went to pieces'. It is a 
depressing story in which no one is at his best; the narrative 
meanders in an atmosphere of supreme malaise; nothing is great or 



4 VANISHED SUPREMACIES 

impressive, not even the so-called betrayal and desertion of Napoleor 
by his Marshals and Ministers. Tired men fumble and slither abom 
on ground on which they cannot stand or walk. In the closing stage 
of history's greatest epic they have but one wish: that it were al 
over. Selfishness, cowardice, and resentments had their share, bul 
they were not the determining factor. Napoleon claimed that had he 
not been betrayed and abandoned he could yet have won; but 
could any enlightened Frenchman wish him to win? The only result 
would have been further wars and a prolonged agony which some 
time, somewhere, was bound to find its disastrous term. There arc 
circumstances in which even defeatism has its excuse. 

By 1814 France, no less than the rest of Europe, had realized 
that a durable peace was not possible with and under Napoleon; 
further, that he was neither invincible nor infallible. He had started 
blundering even in matters of strategy, and blunders, like crimes, 
produce offspring at the rate of insects. Something had gone wrong; 
something had slipped from him; strike a wrong key and you get out 
of touch with your machine; he had lost the grip of things. The man 
who in the past was able to gauge others, forestall them, lead them, 
or force them into his own ways, and who,, above all men, knew the 
value of time, now began to lag behind events rather than meet and 
master them. At Prague, at Frankfort, and at Chatillon he had a 
chance of securing a respite. He knew that he needed it; otherwise 
he would not have entered into negotiations while the tide was 
running against him and his opponents could stake out their claims 
in terms of an anticipated future. But no sooner did he perceive, of" 
think he perceived, a glimmer of hope than he would go back on the 
instructions and powers which he had given to his plenipotentiaries. 
Even when the time had come for unconditional abdication, he still 
tried to prevaricate, forgetting that ambiguity, like moral indigna- 
tion and rudeness, is the privilege of the stronger. Napoleon only re- 
covered his intellectual greatness when he abandoned hope; till then 
he was self-conscious and preoccupied, given over to self -deception 
and to accusing others. What he said at that time about the French 
was true of himself: They are unhappy, and the unhappy are un- 
just.' But when at last he gave up the game for last, before his 
attempted suicide and after, he once more came to view men and 
matters with impersonal objectivity; and the talks which he had in 
those days with Caulaincourt form the most interesting chapter in 
vol. II of his Memoirs, 2 

2 Memoirs of General de Caulaincourt, Duke of Vicenza, vol ii, 1814, ed Jean 
Hanoteau. 



THE END OF NAPOLEON 5 

Accurate evaluation correlated to a purpose was Napoleon's nor- 
mal approach to human beings. He assessed but did not value them; 
was lavish in rewards and chary of praise; disparaging, but not 
prone to blame and still less to punish. He was a hard taskmaster, 
exhausting and discouraging; altogether inhuman. And, in turn, 
men with whom he was in closer contact had little human feeling for 
him. So long as he was victorious, they followed him in mute ad- 
miration. He thought, spoke, and acted for all. Only when he began 
to totter France regained voice and action; and the long-suppressed 
protest, fanned by patriotic fears, broke out in betrayal and deser- 
tion. Marshal Ney, Prince de la Moskowa, who a year later was to 
rejoin Napoleon and suffer execution for it, when sent by him to 
the headquarters of the Allies in Paris, in the presence of the Tsar 
indulged in indiscreet and injudicious criticisms of Napoleon; but 
then it was new to him to be able to speak his mind. 

At the very end Caulaincourt remained correctly loyal and con- 
sciously correct. But there is something strained about his attitude, a 
degree of self -congratulation on having 'pulled it off', which, com- 
bined with an almost envious condemnation of the others, shows how 
much it must have cost him not to follow their example. Even he did 
not love Napoleon, and Napoleon knew it; nor could he have con- 
templated new Napoleonic victories without apprehension. He 
merely wished the Emperor to secure a reasonable existence within 
reasonable frontiers; which, seeing the nature and antecedents of 
the man, was not a reasonable wish. It might even be asked whether 
Caulaincourt J s more enduring attachment to Napoleon was not per- 
haps, at least subconsciously, connected with the part, mistakenly 
but widely, ascribed to Caulaincourt in the capture and execution 
of the Due d'Enghien. 



3. A ST. HELENA JOURNAL 

GENIUS is capacity for great constructive achievement, but it does 
not exempt from blunders or weakness. How else could Napoleon 
have let General Gourgaud be one of the few companions allowed 
to him at St. Helena? 3 It is enough to look at the man's picture, his 
garrulous, wide-open eyes, at his blabbing, argumentative mouth, 
at his forehead of a half-wit, at the excitable stupidity of his face, to 

3 The St, Helena Journal of General Baron Gourgaud, 1815-1818, trans. Sydney 
Gillard and ed. Norman Edwards. 



6 VANISHED SUPREMACIES 

see what Napoleon let himself in for; it 'portrays a man who would 
have tried the patience of Job'. But then Napoleon had not chosen 
him. 'I have often heard the Emperor say to the Empress Josephine', 
writes Gourgaud, 'that he yields to one thing only importunity.' 
Gourgaud was at Rochefort; when he heard that he was to be left 
behind he made a violent scene. Napoleon gave in; and Gourgaud 
continued making scones. 

He was jealous, touchy, egotistical, and always on his dignity or 
his 'honour', as he called it. 'Honour' had bid him accompany 
Napoleon into exile (or rather force his company on the Emperor) ; 
and after that he claimed to have made a sacrifice of his life, and 
thought he shquld be treated accordingly. At every opportunity he 
recounted -what he had done for Napoleon; there was especially one 
incident he could not forget (nor accurately remember): how once 
with a pistol-shot he had saved the Emperor's life when an enemy 
rushed at him; sometimes it was a hussar with a sword, and some- 
times a Cossack with a lance. When the wife of one of the other 
companions of Napoleon expected a child and a room was added 
for them, Gourgaud wrote: 'I couldn't bear to sec building being 
done for the Montholons if something similar was not done for me.' 
Whether he was properly placed in a picture of the party at Long- 
wood, or how he was mentioned in a letter by Napoleon, was of 
course of supreme importance to him. 

How do you wish me to speak of you ? (asked the Emperor.) You 
are always afraid of compromising yourself. I should have to consult 
you on every occasion to know whether what I say pleases you or 
not. That's not my custom, and it doesn't suit me. 

'I am too richly endowed with affection' is Gourgaud 9 s own diag- 
nosis of his case. 

What is the value of the memoirs of such a man? In certain ways 
small, in other ways considerable. Comparatively little appears in 
this Journal of Napoleon's personality, but as Gourgaud was too 
egotistical and too stupid to fall in with the drama which Napoleon 
staged at St. Helena, the braying of the jackass often breaks in on it 
in a manner valuable to those who want to get at the real facts. 
Moreover, the degradation of that life in a cage was fully within the 
range of Gourgaud 's powers to experience and describe. A Boswell 
might have overlooked it, entranced by the Emperor's mind and 
engrossed in recording his sayings; or it might have escaped the 
observation of a truly devoted companion trying to make things 
more tolerable for the Emperor. But if anyone wants a pitiful, hope- 



THE END OF NAPOLEON J 

less, ludicrous picture of the great captive, grappling, for instance, 
with the problem of a cow, and getting angry when things went 
wrong, here he can find it. 

The Emperor is in a very bad humour, and full of the cow incident. 
At dinner, the Emperor asks Archambault: 'Did you let the cow get 
away? If it is lost, you'll pay for it, you blackguard! 3 Archambault 
assures his Majesty that he caught the cow again at the other end of 
the park; that she twice broke her rope, and that she gives no milk. 
I hold my tongue throughout the meal His Majesty, in a very bad 
humour, retires at 10.30, muttering: f Moscow! Half a million men!' 

And lastly, that picture of unspeakable boredom: I am oppressed 

with boredom,' writes Gourgaud. 'Boredom Great boredom. 

Terrible boredom.' 

'What's the time? 5 inquired the Emperor. 'Ten o'clock, sire.' 
'Let's go to bed, then.' 



4. NAPOLEON n 



T HJE Emgeror ^djvfth^Mse^g fixoHi^ 

bust of his son. What was the personality of that boy on whom the 
title of 'King of Rome' was bestowed in his cradle, to whom a 
World Empire was to have descended as inheritance, and who, in 
turn, by his birth had seemed to add to the stability and duration of 
that Empire? Chateaubriand said about the son of the Corsican and 
the Austrian archduchess that 'his mother gave him the past, his 
father the future'; but 'the future' was dead before the boy could 
understand its meaning, and 'the past' became for Mm a golden 
cage. 4 'My birth and my death that is my whole story,' said 
Napoleon's son on his death-bed. 

In 1814 he was separated from his father, who adored him, and 




human way but left the making, oFratKer tEe unmaking, of his life 
to Mettcrnich. And in that ehild Metternich still waged war on the 
shadow and memory of the man whom he had feared, loathed, 
cajoted," fbugfii, arid vanquished in the great battle of his life. The 
boy was deprived of His royal title, even of his name; he was no 
longer King of Rome, nor Napoleon, nor a Frenchman, but 
4 Napoleon //, the King of Rome, byTtetave Aubry. 



O VANISHED SUPREMACIES 

'Francis 3 , a Habsburg, an Austrian prince, Duke of Reichstadt. The 
name and memory of the father, which with ever-growing force re- 
sounded throughout the world in posthumous conquest, were to be 
extinguished from the consciousness of his son. None the less, as he 
grew up the legend reached him, and the tragedy of his life began, 
to be cut short by death from consumption at the age of twenty-one. 
Metternich now wrote to the Austrian Ambassador in Paris asking 
him to call Louis-Philippe's attention 'to the person who will suc- 
ceed the Duke'. 

I use the word 'succeed', for in the Bonapartist hierarchy there is 
a succession openly avowed and respected by the party. Young Louis 
Bonaparte is deeply involved in intrigues of faction; he was never 
placed, like the Duke of Reichstadt, under the safeguard of the 
Emperor's principles. 

And the Emperor Francis, according to M. Aubry, 

mourned the innocent child, the delightful youth who had been his 
favourite. But he could not help regarding his death as a deliverance. 
He was beyond suffering, and he had ceased to be a political em- 
barrassment. The grandfather . . . had been neither willing nor able 
to achieve the boy's happiness. He was glad to shoulder off the 
responsibility upon God. 



II 
TALLEYRAND 



TALJUEYRANP ;wagjjonjj^ jli^nj/x^^ 
SI^OE^Mayj seventeen years^ He 

^colEBorated with Mirabeau and Sieyes in 1789, and with Guizot 
and Thiers under the July Monarchy. Of high aristocracy, he 
entered the Church because lameness, due to an accident in child- 
hood, precluded army service. As Bishop of Autun he was returned 
by the clergy to the States-General, had a share in drafting the 
Declaration of the Rights of Man, and played a leading part in the 
Constituent Assembly. In October 1789 he moved the appropriation 
of the Church property by the State, and on 14 July 1790, at the 
feast on the Champ de Mars commemorating the Bastille, in the 
presence of Louis XVI, he celebrated Mass (Tray, don't make me 
laugh,' he whispered to Lafayette). Early in 1791 he discarded the 
vestments which had never meant anything to him. When six years 
later his appointment to the Foreign Office was discussed in the 
Directory, Carnot objected: he would sell them all. 'Whom has he 
sold' replied La Revelli&re. f First, his God.' 'He was never a 
believer.' '. . . Next, his order.' C A mark of philosophy.' 'Rather of 
ambition. Lastly, his King.' 'It is hardly for us to reproach him with 
that.' 

few illusions or 

sTHe^^ was a roman- 

tic withre^^ doctrinesQHe 

hM"a"Kfbnflense of reality and clear judgment. He ajg^reoated 

He jvaTKzy, 

5f it. Neglected by his parents in early childho63Tand 
he was a grand seigneur towards men 
of other classes but had no love for his own and contributed with 
cold indifference to its downfalLHe had feKjdfigpgllJiiiToan .contadaL 
and knew neither gratitude nor personal loyalty Hejbad self-love 

- _ g- 



IO VANISHED SUPREMACIES 

but little self-resgec^^ The world of the 

'ancten regime had its standards of honour, its conventions and 
barriers (though few sincere prejudices); these aids to morality, or 
substitutes for it, had been swept away. Talleyrand, emotionally de- 
tached and spiritually free, worked in a moral and social void. He 
loved women and money; he cared for France. There was hardly a 
limit to which he would not demean himself for thelale^ormoney; 

"treaties an^^Qntiera^the jackal of 
g was^gathological and in, a way 

pathetic; to hmjmo^j_sJ:qodTwJc6ncrete security in a world full 
. Foremost, he meant to live. 



~ """"Survival, free of the stigma of emigration"," was his aim under the 
Terror. *I placed myself at the disposal of events, and, provided I 
remained a Frenchman, I would put up with anything.' After 10 
August 1792, he wrote an exculpating diplomatic circular, but for 
himself secured a passport from Danton: 'Laissez passer, &c. 
Maurice Talleyrand, allant a Londres par nos ordres.' He remained 
in this country till expelled in 1794. He then proceeded to the United 
States, where he tried his hand at land speculation (he was even 
scheming to make Hindu gentlemen invest in American real estate). 
He was allowed to return to France in 1796. In July 1797 he was 
given the Foreign Office a subordinate post, as policy was made by 
the Directory. On his way to thank Barras he muttered rapturously 
that now he would amass c une fortune immense, une immense for- 
tune, une immense fortune, une fortune immense 5 . The Americans 
were shocked when, to obtain justice from one they had so lately 
befriended, they had to bribe him with 50,000. By 1799 he had 
3,000,000 francs on deposit with Hamburg and London banks; in 
1805 his fortune was valued at 40,000,000. 

M. Lacour-Gayet in his great work on Talleyrand paints his first 
meeting with Bonaparte. Tall, with his hair powdered as under the 
anden regime, high cheek-bones, round chin, his eyes fixed, his 
pointed nose insolently raised, his lips curved in irony and disdain, 
a very high stock round his neck, stiff and immobile to disguise his 
limp, he bore an air of fatigue and supreme indifference which made 
him look older than forty-three. The other man, small and thin, 
with quick, nervous movements, olive skin, long black hair, severe 
countenance, sharp nose, tight lips, protruding chin, already con- 
veyed an impression of irresistible force; he had conquered Italy, 
was about to attack England, wore the uniform of commander-in- 
chief, and was twenty-eight. C I1 y a Ik de Favenir' was Talleyrand's 
comment on Bonaparte. In November 1792 Talleyrand had argued 



TALLEYRAND II 

the uselessness of conquests, 'France should remain within her own 
frontiers' she owes this to herself and to others. In July 1798: 'The 
Republic inspires respect rather than confidence; through confidence 
alone is it possible to gain true and useful allies. 3 In 1 800 he foresaw 
that further conquests would prove c a career without term.' He 
preached moderation; he was to serve Napoleon. 'He signed events 
but did not make them.' 

Talleyrand now professed unbounded admiration for Napoleon. 
Napoleon appreciated Talleyrand: 'He has great advantages as a 
negotiator ... he knows the foreign courts, has finesse ... an utterly 
impassive face, and a great name. To the Revolution he belongs 
only by his misconduct. . . .' Yet it was not an easy partnership 
between the cultured and lazy aristocrat and the man who worked 
like no one else and was inamusable. The Napoleonic Empire was 
fast becoming a danger to France, and after Eylau Talleyrand said 
to Prince Dalberg that had Napoleon been killed they would have 
made Joseph his successor, but proclaimed 'an immediate and abso- 
lute withdrawal of France to her Rhine frontier'. 

Gradually his misgivings .thickened, and he resigned the Foreign 
Office in August 1807. Still he remained at Court, and in 1808, a 
secret enemy, accompanied Napoleon to'theTamous interview with 
Tsar Alexander at Erfurt 'The 1< Jr^ch lw pe6plc' 1 ig'dvili2e3, but not 
its sovereign/ he said to Alexander; 'Russia's sovereign is civilized, 
but not its people; the Russian sovereign should therefore be the ally 
of the French people.' And again: 'The Rhine, the Alps, and the 
Pyrenees are the conquests of France; the rest, of the Emperor; they 
mean nothing to France.' An entente was established between the 
two against Napoleon. <--,,.,,,. 

When news about Talleyrand's activities and Austria's intrigues 
reached Napoleon, he suddenly. returned^ to_hisj^iital ? jind on 28 
January 1809, received Talleyrand ir* the, presence of several Court 
officials and Ministers. "For half an hour he poured out a torrent of 
the most violent abuse against Talleyrand, concluding with a coarse 
reference to his wife. When leaving Talleyrand remarked, 'What a 
pity that so great a man should be so ill-bred ! ' 

In 1812, and again in 1813, Napoleon offered the/Foreign Office 
to Talleyrand. He refused. On 31 March 1814 came the hour of his 
vengeance and" of his greatest achievement. This was one of those 
rare occasions when an idea can shape the fate of nations. The Allies 
were about to enter P^^^^J^uTt^Fr^ifict was dark. Talleyrand^ 
sawtRFroaH^ the Bourbons had to Be*restored. They 

had be^n forgotten; they were strangers to modern France, but 



12 | VANISHED SUPREMACIES 

Europe needed them. What Europe had fought, and still feared, was 
tfie French Revolution and Napoleon. The Bourbons were a natural 
barrier against both, acceptable, or at least tolerable, to France. 
Napoleon was Emperor of the French, successor to Caesar and 
Charlemagne ; they were Kings of France, heirs to Louis XIV. With 
the Bourbons France could resume les anciennes limites. But the sins 
of the Revolution and Napoleon must not be visited on Bourbon 
France. Had not the Bourbons been the first sufferers and victims? 
The greatest transformation trick of history was played. France was 
absolved of guilt and escaped punishment. 

It was not mere cynicism in Talleyrand to come forward as the 
apostle of Ugltlmite. A tired, ageing man, he tried to gather up 
broken threads. At the Congress of Vienna he worked with the paci- 
fic and conservative Powers, Great Britain and Austria. Europe was 
not to be remodelled when France could not profit by it. This 
opposition to Russia counted against Talleyrand when, after Water- 
loo, France required her protection, A few months later he retired 
into private life. 

*HHfe' emerged once more after the July Revolution. Between 1814 
and 1940, France, victorious, tried to establish her own system on 
the Continent; defeated, or in times of weakness, she turned to Eng- 
land or Russia, the choice being largely determined by conditions at 
home. In 1830 help had to be sought in London, and Talleyrand 
became the maker of the first Franco-British Entente, in defence of 
French liberalism and of the Belgian revolution. He established close 
co-operation with British statesmen. We have to deal here with 
timid people,' he wrote. f lls arrivent un pen lentement, mais enfin 
Us arrivent.' 

Talleyrand on his death-bed accepted the rites of the Church, but 
he-remembered the privilege of his pre-Revolution state. J-Je received 
the Eoly oil with his hand$ closed and his palms turned downwards, 
murmuring, 'Do not forget I am a bishop'. 



Ill 
METTERNICH 



A HEGELIAN once described the Napoleonic period as the sixth day 
of Creation, for a man had Arisen; it was followed by the Sabbath 
Day of history when all creative power seemed at rest. A cold 
shadow lay over Europe for thirty-three years, the active life of a 
generation, and people connected it with the person of Metternich 
and called it his c system 3 , though they never ceased to wonder how 
that rococo figure in porcelain, stylish and nimble, and in appear- 
ance hollow and brittle, could last so long and keep off the light 
from tens of millions of men. In his youth described as le ministre- 
papillon, in his old age as a blind, senseless fossil, he was none the 
less credited with the power to stop the stars in their courses. It is 
this incongruity between Metternich s s personality and his reputed 
achievements that constitutes the seeming enigma. 

He himself denied having devised any 'system* it was 'eine 
Weltordnung 7 ('a world order'), based on deep immutable laws 
which his own clear spirit had merely discerned and laid bare to the 
eyes of men. The aristocrat and the diplomat, the professor and the 
prophet, and finally the old actor and buffoon, were quaintly 
blended in the person of Metternich when, in discourses and des- 
patches of ever-growing length, year after year, he propounded his 
doctrines to a world over which his master-mind seemed to .preside. 
But the more he talked and wrote, the less apparent were the positive 
contents of his teaching, till people began to doubt whether there 
were any. The mistake was in accepting the would-be philosophic 
and scientific character which Metternich gave to his harangues; 
these were songs, in which the music mattered and not the text* 

Conservatism, of which Metternich was an exponent, is primarily 
based on a proper recognition of human limitations, and cannot be 
argued in a spirit of self -glorifying logic. The history of the French 
Revolution and of Napoleon had shown once more the immense 

13 



14 VANISHED SUPREMACIES 

superiority which existing social forms have over human movements 
and genius, and the poise and rest which there are in a spiritual, 
inheritance, far superior to the thoughts^ will or i 



single generation. It was the greatness and strength of Metternich 
(luring these fateful years to have foreseen that human contrivances, 
however clever and beneficial, would not endure, and to have under- 
stood the peculiar elasticity with which men would finally revert to 
former habits. The failure of striving, struggling men brings the heir 
of ages back into his own. The fine and, in its own way, unique 
diplomacy of Metternich, during both the Napoleonic era and the 
years which followed, was based on this deep, almost instinctive, 
understanding of Conservatism. He annotated the margins of the 
great book of human insufficiency and inertia -interesting work 
indeed, which requires a strong and free mind, but which ought to 
be undertaken in a spirit of humility. Of this there is no trace in 
Metternich. He was essentially of the eighteenth century, a disciple 
of Voltaire rather than of Rousseau. He shared its belief in the infin- 
ite power of the human mind (exemplified to him in his own person), 
though not in the unlimited perfectibility of human nature; much 
interested in science, he liked to treat of society and politics in terms 
of immutable, abstract laws, and, unaware of the inadequacy of the 
data we possess, allowed a sterile, doctrinaire logic to repress psycho- 
logical perception. His scientific interests themselves had the typical 
eighteenth-century turn towards things curious and extraordinary 
rather than towards the basic average, and mainly served to supply 
him with a pseudo-scientific jargon and with what a bitter critic 
once called his 'five metaphors'. He was sentimental, but disliked 
melodrama; he professed feelings, but shrank from enthusiasms; he 
could loathe, but not hate. He remained classic in an age of roman- 
tics, and worshipped reason, but denied creative power to human 
thought. He, for one, certainly lacked it; he was a raisonneur rather 
than a thinker */ raisonne sur tout et en toute occasion! 

Like the eighteenth century, he knew States and not nations. He 
abhorred the idea of the sovereignty of the people and failed to see 
that, after all, it was just an abstract idea, incapable of full realiza- 
tion, and therefore doomed to compromises. It has been alleged that 
his ideas were based on the needs and calculated to serve the peculiar 
interests of Austria; but it is hardly in the power of man successfully 
to develop ad hoc systems. Metternich was sincerely attached to the 
Habsburg Monarchy because, like no other State, it was bound up 
with the time and world in which he would have chosen to live, and 
because its very existence was a denial of nationality and popular 



METTERNIGH 15 

sovereignty; he rose to the first place In it because his ideas so com- 
pletely answered its needs and nature. He was not an Austrian by 
birth, but from the Rhine, and he was twenty-one when he first 
came to Vienna. In fact, he was a Rhenish emigre,, with the intel- 
lectual outlook of the French ancien regime; but, not being a 
Frenchman, was even less capable than the average French aristo- 
crat of sharing in the national developments of revolutionary and 
Napoleonic France. These antecedents, coupled with the world-wide 
interests of his class and the non-national character of Austria, made 
him a true European, 'C'est que depuis longtemps F Europe a pris 
pour moi la yaleur d'une patrie* he declared in 1824 to *^ e Duke 
of Wellington. With revolution lurking everywhere, he preached 
international comity to princes and favoured treaties of mutual 
guarantee for the existing frontiers, which to him, who knew no 
rights of nationality, presented no other moral problems than those 
of a private estate. He insisted on the full sovereignty and independ- 
ence of every State, however small, but as the balance of power 
required the centre of Europe to be strengthened against France and 
Russia, he sought to establish the Germanic Confederation, and even 
dallied with the idea of a Lega Italica, paradoxically conceiving both 
as mere groups of States. Precluded from appealing to the national 
consciousness of the Germans or Italians, which alone could have 
supplied the proper basis for such unions and imposed them on 
recalcitrant princelings, he naturally and necessarily failed in his 
attempts. 

Strictly speaking, Metternich was not the reactionary as which he 
is usually represented ; for this he was too intelligent, too cautious, 
and too conservative. He honoured all prescriptive rights and vested 
interests. For him the British Parliamentary system was proper in its 
own home, but not a panacea for nations which had not developed 
it. Within the Habsburg Monarchy itself he tolerated and protected 
Hungary's old constitution, based though it was on a Parliament; it 
was not for him to destroy the growth of many centuries. But he 
seemed unable to conceive how anything new could ever be safely 
attempted without leading to the collapse of the entire social fabric; 
his own logic was too rigid and destructive. Theoretically he argued 
that stability was not synonymous with immobility; but in practice 
he loathed even the change of years, having by December become 
attached to the four figures of the date. Metternich was not an ad- 
ministrator, and did not claim to be one; he lacked the necessary 
energy, perseverance, and mastery of practical detail. But he cannot 
truly be held responsible for the administrative chaos and decay of 



l6 VANISHED SUPREMACIES 

Austria during the years of his Chancellorship. He merely enabled 
her to exist so long being what she was; though it was no accident 
that he was riveted to such a State, since his fundamental ideas ex- 
cluded the new elements of national life. Nor can he be blamed for 
Austria's intellectual backwardness; with him or without him 
Vienna has never produced anything truly great or creative, only a 
fine blend of a peculiar internationalism with an intensely local 
colouring somewhat like Metternich himself. 

The real strength and dignity of his nature revealed itself in the 
days of his fall and the years of his retirement. 'Eh bien, est-ce que 
nous sommes tons morts? 3 asked his wife as he returned from the 
Imperial Palace after the revolution in the streets of Vienna had 
forced his resignation. 'Oui., ma chere, nous sommes morts. 7 Un- 
moved and unshaken, he accepted his moral death. But when on the 
steps of the British Museum he met another great exile, Guizot, he 
remarked with a smile: 'L'erreur n*a jamais approche de mon esprit' 



IV 

PRINCESS LIEVEN 



PRINCESS LIEVEN was the wife of a Russian Ambassador, a com- 
panion of the Imperial Family, and the intimate friend first of 
Metternich, next of Lord Grey, and finally of Guizot *I quite like 
Prime Ministers/ she wrote to Metternich in 1820, Prussia was the 
only Great Power whose policy she never tried to run. 

She is often cited as a 'Russian'. But her father, Baron Bencken- 
dorff , was of a Prussian family settled in Estonia, and her mother, 
Baroness Charlotte Schilling, came from Wiirttemberg: Princess 
Lieven had not a drop of Russian blood, nor had her husband; and 
both were Lutherans. They were of a Court which moved between 
St. Petersburg and Peter hof: Tsarism and its power-politics were 
their home and realm. There was no feeling in her for real Russia 
nor understanding of its Slav, Greek-Orthodox people. She thought 
of the world in terms of her own small circle. And if the German 
Nesselrode, the Greek Capo d'Istria, or the Coraican Pozzo di Borgo 
('his presence lent great distinction to Russian politics, 9 she wrote to 
Lady Palmerston in 1842) could speak for Russia, and the Rhine- 
lander Metternich personify Austria, why should not the Lievens 
play a part in Hanoverian London? She boasted: 'I am treated so 
much as an Englishwoman . . . that nobody minds talking in front 
of me.' She advised Wellington and patronized Palmerston ('Lord 
Grey praised Palmeiston to me yesterday,' she wrote on 27 October 
1831 to Lady Cowper, an intimate friend and subsequently the wife 
of Palmerston; 'an excellent Secretary of State'). When Grey had 
become Prime Minister she wrote to Lady Cowper: 

I see Lord Grey every dayI try to give him couragehe must 
feel himself strong. One must assume a certain pomposity when one 
is in power it inspires confidence in other people. 

And a fortnight later: 



l8 VANISHED SUPREMACIES 

Lord Grey . . . has responded nicely to my constant repetitions 
that he must be and show himself proud. ... I endeavour to instil as 
much pride as possible into you. 

But there were things touching her person and position which that 
quasi-Russian, acclimatized in England, did not fathom. Wellington 
wrote about the Lievens on 24 August 1829: 'They have played an 
English party game instead of doing the business of their Sovereign' ; 
and later on, expressed surprise that 'so long employed in public 
office in this country' they should c have committed the extraordin- 
ary indiscretions of which they have been guilty'. Palmerston, in 
1834, managed to rid himself of them. 'Lord P. found my husband 
a stumbling block,' wrote the Princess to Lady Cowper on 7 October 
1834. The husband? 

Many friends preferred Princess Lieven at a distance. She seldom 
met Metternich even while she was his mistress. They corresponded: 
'Some day, if our letters are read,' wrote Princess Lieven, 'people 
will wonder what they were about love or politics. ... In fact, I 
don't know myself . . .' Because her love affairs were so political. 
'Personally I prefer weakness to strength in women. It is more 
feminine.' She herself was masculine and pursued a man's career in 
the only way open to her: a peculiar career, successively identifying 
herself with statesmen of different countries. Yet there was in her a 
deeper sense of frustration: her adjustments were superficial, and she 
venomously turned against husband and lovers whenever a rift 
opened. She had great social culture, and vulgarity underneath. 
Even her normal correspondence is rendered unpleasant by a strain 
of irritable disparagement. The Duchess of Wellington is 'stupid', 
Lady Grey 'a horrible woman, passionate, bitter, Jacobin, every- 
thing that is most detestable', Lady Conyngham 'a malicious fool', 
Countess Esterhazy 'a mediocre person . . . and what pretences to 
airs and graces!'; and the Duchesse de Berry 'a hopeless nonentity' 
whom 'nothing but the assassination of her husband before her very 
eyes could make . . . and object of interest' ; etc. ('How much better the 
world would be', she wrote to Metternich, 'if people were kinder.') 
Men escaped censure so long as they served her purpose. But her 
interest was in situations and schemings, not in human beings. 

'Some day, if our letters are read . . .' Hers, half -diary, were 
literature. She wrote to Lady Cowper, from Petersburg on 8/20 
February 1835: 

I remain alone in my room writing, for I have strange tales to tell. 
I have seen much in my life. I have all my papers with me it is a 
way of passing the time. 



PRINCESS LIEVEN ig 

And to Lord Grey, on 6 October 1834: 

... as to my mental occupations, do you know what is the greatest 
source of my pleasure? It is putting in order of all my voluminous 
correspondence with my friends and among them all, the first place 

is taken by your letters Your letters are the history of the times 

we have lived through. 

Grey protested that they were meant for her only: 'I have no desire 
that they should be preserved as materials for history/ Now her 
correspondence appears, one lot after another, and people are apt to 
overrate the historical value of such letters if they are spicy and 
c high-lifey 3 . 

Of the correspondence with Lady Cowper-Palmercton 1 five-sixths 
are subsequent to Princess Lieven's expulsion from the English 
paradise (which was drab and dull and cold and 'frankly depressing' 
while she inhabited it). 'Oh God ! How I love everything that I have 
left behind ! ' c . . . not a day passes but I bemoan my separation from 
England' ; 'England is always in my thoughts . . . never fails to inter- 
est me. 5 'Everyone around me is enjoying life. I alone lie ill, sad, 
deserted. 3 'Dearest, letters and again letters, these are what I need' 
(23 October 1834). 'My only joy is to read letter from England. 
And you know what a joy your letter are in particular 3 (6 January 
1835). 'Dearest, how good you are to write to me so regularly. I beg 
you will continue to do so 3 (12 February 1836). And she repeats a 
dozen times throughout the years: 'Your letters are my greatest 
pleasure.' But to Grey on 9/21 November 1834: 

Lady Gowper writes to me very often, but then she is so hand in 
glove with the present Ministry that I do not learn much from her 
letters. I prefer hearing from outsiders, for they at least do not try to 
mislead. It is astounding how like bad faith this Ministerial prudence 
too often becomes. 

And on 6 December 1834: Tray take pity on me and write, for it is 
only on you that I can count for getting at the truth. 3 

On the straight hedonistic view of life and of human pursuits one 
could truly wonder why these two women continued their corres- 
pondence; it is sometimes like cats screaming at each other in the 
night rising in pitch or dropping to hostile purring. When Princess 
Lieven in July 1835, having lost two sons ('there has never been a 
greater grief than mine'), wanted to seek comfort in England ('your 
politics still interest me more than any others 3 ), Lady Cowper 
replied: 

1 The Lieven-Palmerston Correspondence, 1826-1856, ed. Lord Sudley. 



2O VANISHED SUPREMACIES 

I really believe that I should choose Paris . . . you need to live 
where there is constant news and political activity and in Paris 
there are more travellers than anywhere else and more owners of 
country houses ; I do not think that England would suit you at all ... 
you would be dreadfully bored here. ... It is much better to keep 
England in your mind's eye as a place to return to when your grief 
has abated. The Duke of Wellington, my brother, all your friends 
advise you to go to Paris. . . . 

And when the Princess dropped Into (temporary) silence : ' . . . can it 
be possible that you are offended . . . you could not be so unjust 
towards me . . . thus misinterpret my friendship and devotion.* And 
on another occasion: 'I love everyone who is kind to you.* 

Princess Lieven would express fears of revolution in England, 
decry the Whigs (Lady Cowper was Lord Melbourne's sister), assure 
her (from Paris) that the Tories were firmly established in office, and 
greatly respected abroad, or tell her how much the English were 
disliked in France. Lady Cowper would, in reply, beg her c not to 
worry about the peerage', which was 'stable and deeply rooted'; 
assure her that Peel was 'embracing liberal ideas ... to gain popu- 
larity', and losing credit with his own party; that the Whigs were 
grand when in office, and happy when out of it ; and that the things 
which made Palmerston unpopular in France 'made him popular in 
England', etc. She demurred: 'You can always count on my affec- 
tion, although you certainly are a trifle unkind towards my friends.' 
The Princess retorted: *I deny absolutely your accusation . . , with 
one exception I like them all' the exception being Palmerston! 
And Lady Palmerston, when sending her congratulations on a Par- 
liamentary success of Guizot's, regretted 'that a Minister who is 
usually so dignified should have lost his dignity to the extent of con- 
fessing such petty motives*. 

'I agree with you, dearest, that our friendship should be able to 
withstand all political changes. . . .' No matter which of the two 
said it. 



V 

1848: SEED-PLOT OF HISTORY 



THE men of 1848, victorious in Paris., Vienna, and Berlin, stood 
amazed at their own success and moderation. A revolution had 
swept over Europe, wider than any before it, but eminently humane 
in its principles and practice. It had its dead but no victims ; it made 
refugees but no political prisoners. Louis-Philippe crossed the Chan- 
nelnot the first French ruler nor the last to take to that route. The 
other sovereigns remained, shaken but not overthrown. Metternich, 
Guizot, and the Prince of Prussia (the later William I) one by one 
arrived in London: exponents of three systems, disparate in nature 
and aims, but seemingly obliterated by the same storm. The strong- 
holds of reaction had fallen, rubble had to be carted away, new 
structures were to arise; there was a great void, filled by sun and 
air; and over it brooded a singularly enlightened Zeitgeist. Men 
dreamed dreams and saw visions, and anything the spirit could con- 
ceive seemed attainable in that year of unlimited possibilities. Next 
year the light and airy visions had faded, and it was as if they had 
never been. 

A gale blows down whatever it encounters, and does not distin- 
guish. Revolutions are anonymous, undenominational, and inarticu- 
late. If there is an inherent program, as in agrarian revolutions, it is 
of a most primitive character. The elemental forces of a mass move- 
ment can be made to do the work of men whose quest is alien to 
them. Most revolutions are filched or deflected: groups or parties 
with elaborate programs panaceas or nostrums try to stamp them 
with their own ideology and, if successful, claim to be their spokes- 
men or even their makers. But revolutions are not made; they occur. 
Discontent with government there always is; still, even when 
grievous and well founded,, it seldom engenders revolution till the 
moral bases of government have rotted away: the feeling of com- 
munity between the masses and their rulers, and in the rulers a con- 

21 



22 VANISHED SUPREMACIES 

sciousness of their right and capacity to rule. Revolutions are usually 
preceded by periods of high intellectual achievement and travail, of 
critical analysis and doubt, of unrest among the educated classes, 
and of guilt-consciousness in the rulers: so it was in France in 1789, 
in Europe in 1848, and in Russia in 1917. If such corrosion of the 
moral and mental bases of^.^QyjasiQg-OJ ^coincides 



^ ^ 

social upheaval, and the conviction spreads, even totherulers them- 
selves, jfe&at the ramshacHe^ disin- 

tegrater"and' revolution eja^HrRevoIutions, as distinct from" mere" 
revolts, usually start at the centre of government, in the capital ; but 
the nature of the actual outbreak and its purpose almost invariably 
escape analysis. What aim did the labouring poor of Paris pursue 
in the Great Revolution, and what did they attain? What was it that 
made them fight in July 1 830, or in February 1 848? And what would 
they have done had they been successful in the June Days or in the 
Paris Commune? Agrarian movements are far more articulate in 
form and aim, and therefore, if extensive and determined, are 
usually successful. The village is a living organism and its communal 
consciousness transcends other loyalties; and the peasant^' demand 
to be relieved of dues, or to be given the land of the nobles and the 
Church, can be met or enforced overnight. The weakness of agrarian 
movements usually is in that they break out sporadically, and there- 
fore can be suppressed. But if linked with a rising in the urban 
centres and with self-doubt in the upper classes, if fanned by general- 
izing factors, such as la grande peur in 1789 or the effect of war in 
1917, they become overpowering; and then urban groups or parties 
graft on to them their own programs. 

as Europe has never known before or since; it 



supervened at a time when the Gwernn^^ 

unequal to the new circui^tances^andj^gi^ems.; in a period of 
fi^naarcrisis ^lld^CSnbmlc" distress, but of 4iJ2il^^ 
traHictory^ social movements. A numerous urban proletariat 
gathered in the rapidly growing capitals; the independent artisans 
were fighting a long-drawn losing battle against modern industry; 
the factory workers started their struggle' for a human existence; 
while the incidence of the agrarian problem was uneven and varied, 
In France it had been solved by the Great Revolution; in Germany 
it was confined to several large areas ; in the Habsburg Monarchy it 
was general and acute: there the peasants were determined to sweep 
away the surviving feudal burdens and jurisdictions. Before the first 
gusts of the revolutionary storm the Governments collapsed without 



1848: SEED-PLOT OF HISTORY 2$ 

offering serious resistance; there was a paralysis of will and a con- 
sciousness of defeat almost before the fight was joined. But there 
was no uniform or unified social-revolutionary force to continue the 
struggle; and the educated j^ddle_jdaggg 3 the successors or new 
partnera of the princes, fromjin exaggerated fear of the Reds quickly 
tura^^ thougFB^ "" 

ing theco^^ victory which they had appropriated. 

The peasants were bought off by timely and extensive concessions; 
the proletariat was defeated in Paris in the June Days, in Vienna in 
October, while in Berlin (as in 1933) it succumbed without fighting. 
In France, where 1789 had done most of the work which still 
awaited accomplishment elsewhere,, 1848 followed a path apart; in 
the rest of Europe the conflict was between the principle of dynastic 
property in countries and that of national sovereignty: from which 
devolved the problems of self-government and self-determination., of 
constitutional rights and of national union and independeace, 

The year 1830 had brought a reaction against ingenious solutions 
which the Congress of Vienna had devised for France, Belgium, and 
Poland; outside! France^ 184.8 was 



_ 

solutions W!K^ The~~ 

mc4ejse^ jn^origin. 

m 1 847 KajcOJIatliy, a Baden bookseller and publisher, had plannecl 
a pamphlet putting forward the demands of the German people, to 
be distributed broadcast on the death of Louis-Philippe: for this was 
expected to set the European revolution going. *Our revolutions, like 
our fashions, we were wont to receive from Paris, 3 wrote in 1849 ^ s 
partner, F. D. Bassermann, a leader of the moderate liberals in the 
Frankfurt Parliament. The European revolution, when it came, 
operated within the area of Napoleon's work and influence; for he 
had sapped inherited forms and loyalties, regrouped territories, 
established modern administrations, and familiarized tens of millions 
of men. with change in political and social conditions and ew 

s. When Napoleon was 



- . 

overthrown therehad to be restomtionTlEvei^ had the monarchs and 
ministers assembled in Vienna wished to reconstruct Europe on a 
rational basis, how could they by agreement have squared Austrian 
and Prussian aims and claims in Germany, solved the problem of 
the Papal State in Italy, or resettled the Habsburg Monarchy on any 
but dynastic foundations? ^he failures of 1848 go far to justify 181 5. 
Incapableof devising, men are forced back, to the s ?^^^ 
*aci witH tHe pristine facts return ideas in which TnHTlioTEngeT 
wholly believe: in every restoration there is an element of make- 



24 VANISHED SUPREMACIES 

believe. The Vienna Congress reaffirmed the idea of indefeasible 
monarchical rights and over wide areas failed to restore the pre- 
vious rulers. Nor were the proprietary and quasi-contractual rights 
attributed to dynasties or Estates compatible with the new social and 
economic conditions: for those ideas were connected with the land; 
they were alien to the intelligentsia (including the bureaucracy 
which supplied a remarkable percentage of members to the Parlia- 
ments of 1848) and to the modern cities. With them conceptions of 
the neo-horde replace those of rooted populations. In 1848 a con- 
siderable advance was made towards the State untrammelled by con- 
tract and custom; and a non-territorial, linguistic nationality asserted 
its sway. The privileged orders entered into partnership with the, 

as 



1 2December 1847 thePrmceC^brt advised the King of Prussia to 
meet the coming onslaught by attaching 'the well-to-do and intelli- 
gent sections of the population -that is, the real people (das eigent- 
liche Volk) 9 to the Government by a share in the administration of 
the country. 

Guizot and Metternich had voluntarily left their countries. Prince 
William had to be persuaded, nay, made to leave in order to put an 
end to rumours that he was about to march on Berlin. They quitted, 
and he did not and all three proved right; their systems were dead, 
his was to be the foremost beneficiary of 1848. There was philo- 
sophic elevation and spiritual pride in the fallen Ministers, while the 
Prince was single-minded and borne. ' Je ne connais gure Fembarras 
et je ne crains pas la responsabilite,' was Guizot 's dictum. 'L'erreur 
ne s'est jamais approche de mon esprit, 5 said Metternich with a faint 
smile when in March 1848 he met Guizot on the steps of the British 
Museum. But Metternich, on the night of his fall, had replied to his 
wife: 'Oui, ma chere, nous sommes morts' -and never again did he 
try to force his way among the living. Nor did Guizot: in France, he 
wrote, in great crises the vanquished deviennent des morts. Neither 
was quite of the country he had governed. Metternich, a Rhine- 
lander, the exponent of a non-national ideal, tried to uphold the 
Habsburg Monarchy, that dynastic creation par excellence, by tying 
all Europe to the principle which alone could secure Austria's sur- 
vival. Internal reform he never seriously contemplated: he appre- 
hended its hopelessness - c je passe ma vie a Stayer un Edifice ver~ 
moulu. 5 When asked by Guizot to explain how it was that revolution 
had spread to Austria governed by him, he replied: c J'ai quelquefois 
gouverne 1'Europe, 1'Autriche jamais.' Guizot, on the other hand, 
was a Protestant attracted by British institutions and ideas, and self- 



1848: SEED-PLOT OF HISTORY 35 

nurtured on them, who tried to establish constitutional monarchy in 
France. Under Louis-Philippe France had enjoyed what the rest of 
the Continent aspired to in 1848: a Parliamentary regime, equality 
before the law, civic freedoms. And what Guizot's toryisme bour- 
geois tried to cultivate in France were the civic virtues of Victorian 
England: Tesprit de famille, le gout du travail regulier, le respect 
des superiority, des lois et des traditions, les sollicitudes prevoyantes, 
les habitudes religieuses. 5 For him French history neither stopped 
nor started in 1789; lie wanted to secure the achievements of the 
Revolution and lay its ghosts. He thought of c ces millions d'exist- 
ences qui ne font point de bruit mais qui sont la France.' But beyond 
these were men he combated and feared: 

The French Revolution and the Emperor Napoleon I have thrown 
a certain number of minds, including some of the most distinguished, 
into a feverish excitement which becomes a moral and, I would 
almost say, a mental disease. They yearn for events, immense, sud- 
den, and strange; they busy themselves with making and unmaking 
governments, nations, religions, society, Europe, the world. . , . They 
are intoxicated with the greatness of their design, and blind to the 
chances of success. To hear them talk, one might think that they had 
the elements and ages at their command . . . and that these were the 
first days of creation or the last days of the world. 

And Louis-Philippe would say to Guizot: 

You are a thousand times right; it is in the depth of men's minds 
that the revolutionary spirit must be fought, for it is there that it 
reigns; mais pour chasser les demons, il faudrait un prophete. 

Le juste milieu was uninspiring, and no compromise, for neither 
wing accepted it: to the Legitimists the July Monarchy was a pro- 
fanation of monarchy ', to the Republicans a perversion and usurpa- 
tion of national sovereignty. Sainte-Beuve wrote in 1 86 1 : 

The Orleans dynasty were neither a principle nor a national glory; 
they were a utility, an expedient; and they were taken for what they 
were. 

And this was his account of the period : 

I appreciated the joys of that reign of eighteen years, the facilities 
it afforded to the mind and for study, for all pacific pursuits, its 
humanity, the pleasures offered, even to those not possessed of a vote, 
by the wonderful display of Parliamentary talent and of eloquence 
from the tribune. . . . Yet it was impossible to view that regime, in its 
spirit and ensemble, as in any way grand ... as something of which 
one could be proud to have been a contemporary. 



2 VANISHED SUPREMACIES 

Guizot himself writes: 

It makes the greatness of our nation . . . that purely material and 
immediate success does not suffice, and that the mind has to be 
satisfied as much as the interests. 

When the revolution started in the streets of Paris even those who 
valued the July Monarchy as a 'utility' would not die for it. As 
Tocqueville puts it 'the government was not overthrown, it was 
allowed to fall'. It flopped. 

The February Revolution had been universally expected, and 
after it had occurred no one could account for it. Its course was 
meaningless, or at least unproductive of immediate results. Memories 
were relived, and the circle of repetition was completed by the 
Second Republic, the Presidency of Louis-Napoleon, and the Second 
Empire. Only in the June Days a new reality pierced through the 
counterfeit displays; the people of Paris, with a tradition and con- 
sciousness of power, but without clear aim, took action. In 1848 the 
French monarchy was consigned to the grave, and with it an 
element essential to the proper working of the Parliamentary system 
was lost. Since then France has faced an uneasy choice between a 
Parliamentary Republic in which President and Prime Minister to 
some extent duplicate each other, and a system based on an inde- 
pendent Executive which is a cross between the American Presi- 
dency and the Napoleonic dictatorship. The principles of equality 
and national sovereignty, bequeathed by the Great Revolution, 
found in 1848 their logical fulfilment in universal suffrage and the 
Republic, two principles not contravened even by a plebiscitarian 
Empire. While British radicals adhered to the tenets of classical 
economy and free trade, French thought in 1848 moved towards 
new social concepts: the organization and protection of labour, 'the 
right to work' (with its concomitant: relief for the unemployed), 
universal education as a citizen right, a graduated income-tax most 
of which were realized in Britain before they were in France. To 
begin with, the February Revolution was not anti-clerical, still less 
anti-religious: the revolutionaries were romantics rather than free- 
thinkers^ while the clergy were largely Legitimists. Lamrnenais and 
Lacordaire were forerunners of a socially radical Catholicism. It was 
only after the June Days that the cleavage between the Church and 
the radicals reopened, while the big bourgeois drew closer to the 
Church in a political clericalism. The problem of Church and State 
was now sharply put, and the battle joined which was to reach its 
climax fifty years later. 



1848: SEED-PLOT OF HISTORY 27 

When Metternich fell, aged seventy-five, he was replaced by 
Kolowrat, aged seventy, and at the Foreign Office by Ficquelmont, 
aged seventy-one; in May, Pillersdorf, an official aged only sixty- 
two, became Prime Minister; but on 8 July he was succeeded by 
Wessenberg, aged seventy-five, who continued the septuagenarian 
set-up of Austria's 'rejuvenation 3 till after the October rising in 
Vienna. And when Bach (aged thirty-five), a politician of revolution- 
ary origin, attained office, within a few weeks he turned into a 
heavy-handed reactionary. The Vienna revolution was indeed a 
peculiar affair. But any radical handling of the situation was bound 
to endanger Austria, immediately or ultimately. Joseph II, Schwarz- 
enberg and Bach^ and the men of 190614, were exponents of sharp, 
centralizing authoritarian systems; Maria Theresa, Metternich, and 
Francis Joseph in his later years temporized; immer jortwurschteln 
('always muddle along') was the precept of the Emperor's most 
accordant Premier, Count Taaffe. Where historic survival is both 
raison d'etre and aim, logical conceptions are a deadly poison. And 
Austria survived because of the inherent impossibilities and contra- 
dictions of the situation* Metternich knew it, but preferred to bedeck 
the dismal truth with philosophical dissertations. 

The pattern of Austria's existence becomes patent in 1848, though 
it takes time before it is discerned and the consequences are drawn. 
There were four dominant nationalities within the Habsburg Mon- 
archy whose upper and middle classes covered also the territories of 
the subject races: Germans, Italians, Magyars, and Poles, versus 
Czechs, Slovaks, Yugoslavs, Ruthenes, and Rumans. The four 
master races demanded a united Germany, a united Italy, an inde- 
pendent Hungary, and a reunited Poland, including between them 
all the territories of the subject races inhabiting the Monarchy. Their 
programs carried to their logical conclusion implied the complete 
disruption of the Austrian Empire, and were therefore opposed by 
the dynasty, and by those among the Austrian Germans who were 
more Austrian than German. The subject races, too, desired national 
unity and independence, but they preferred the rule of the non- 
national Habsburgs to that of the master races. Some of their leaders, 
especially among the Czechs, went the length of developing a pro- 
gram of Austro-Slavism J of an Austria reconstructed on a Slav 
basis. But this was a phantasm: for it offered no possible basis for the 
existence and survival of the Habsburg Monarchy. In the long run 
the dynasty had to take for partners nationalities which shared their 
proprietary interests in their territories, as did the Germans, Mag- 
yars, and Poles, and which, therefore, were prepared to defend every 



28 VANISHED SUPREMACIES 

square mile. But the Germans, inside and outside Austria, would 
only accept her continued existence in lieu of complete national 
unity if the German predominance within Austria was maintained 
and reinforced by a German alliance, which in turn the Habsburgs 
themselves required to safeguard their dominions; and the Magyars 
and Poles would only accept it provided it did not touch, and indeed 
safeguarded, their dominion over Hungary and Galicia. Socially 
also the German-Magyar-Polish basis best suited the Habsburgs: an 
ancient dynasty cannot permanently ally itself to peasants against 
their masters. In 1848-9 the peasant nations supported the dynasty; 
in 1867 they were abandoned by it to the dominant races. In 1866-7 
the German, Italian, and Magyar programs of 1848 were realized 
in modified forms, and the Polish, in so far as this was possible within 
the framework of the Habsburg Monarchy alone. In 1918-19 came 
the time for the subject races of the German and Magyar spheres, 
and for the Poles; in 1939-45, for the Yugoslavs and Ruthenes in 
the Italian and Polish spheres. Every idea put forward by the 
nationalities of the Habsburg Monarchy in 1848 was realized at 
some juncture, in one form or another. 

With 1848 starts the German bid for power, for European pre- 
dominance, for world dominion: the national movement was the 
common denominator of the German revolution in 1848, and a 
mighty Germany, fit to give the law to other nations, its foremost 
aim. Einheit, Freiheit, und Macht ('Unity, Freedom, and Power') 
was the slogan, with the emphasis on the first and third concepts. 
'Through power to freedom, this is Germany's predestined path/ 
wrote in April 1848 the outstanding intellectual leader of the Frank- 
furt assemblies, Professor Dahlmann. Even some of the Republicans 
were Republicans primarily because they were Nationalists: the 
existence of thirty-odd dynasties and the rival claims of Habsburgs 
and Hohenzollerns were the foremost obstacles to German unity, 
easiest removed by proclaiming a German Republic, one and indi- 
visible. The movement for German unity originated in 1 848 in the 
west, south-west, and in the centre of Germany, in the small States 
which gave no scope to the German Wille zur Macht, and in the 
newly-acquired, disaffected provinces of Prussia and Bavaria. But 
although the aim of the Frankfurt Parliament was a real Pan-Ger- 
many, not a Great Prussia, or Great Austria, one of the two German 
Great Powers had to be the core of the new German Federal State. 
And here started the difficulties : Austria was the greatest State with- 
in the Federation and its traditional 'head 5 , but of its thirty-six 
million inhabitants less than six were German; while of sixteen 



1848: SEED-PLOT OF HISTORY 29 

million in Prussia, fourteen were German. Austria obviously could 
not merge into a German national State, whereas Prussia could 
theoretically. It became clear in 1848-9 that a united Greater Ger- 
many (Gross-Deutschland), comprising the German provinces of 
Austria, implied the disruption of Austria; otherwise it had to be a 
Lesser Germany (Klein-Deutschland). With an undivided Austria 
within Germany, the German Confederation could not change into 
a Federal State; but a Federation of States offered no prospect of 
real national unity or of power. The Frankfurt Parliament therefore 
finished by accepting Klein-Deutschland, and offered its Crown to 
the King of Prussia; who refused from respect for Austria and be- 
cause he could only have accepted the Crown if offered to him by 
his fellow-sovereigns. Nor would the new Empire as planned at 
Frankfurt have proved acceptable to the true Prussians: Frankfurt, 
not Berlin, was to have been its capital, and Prussia was c to merge 
into Germany' (there was intense jealousy at Frankfurt against the 
Berlin Parliament, and as a safeguard against Prussian predomi- 
nance in a Klein-Deutschland it was planned to break up Prussia 
into her eight provinces, each about the size of a German middle- 
sized State). When in March 1848 Frederick William IV sported the 
German tricolour and made his troops assume it, the Second Regi- 
ment of the Guards replied by a song about 'the cry which pierced 
the faithful hearts: you shall be Prussians no longer, you shall be 
Germans.' When Bismarck showed its text to the Prince of Prussia, 
tears ran down William's cheeks. But it was his system based on 
Prussia, her army and administration, which was to be established 
by the man who showed him the song. 

The year 1848 proved in Germany that union could not be 
achieved through discussion and by agreement; that it could be 
achieved only by force; that there were not sufficient revolutionary 
forces in Germany to impose it from below; and that therefore, if it 
was to be, it had to be imposed by the Prussian army. Again the 
future was mapped out. There were four programs in 1848-9. That 
of Gross-Oesteneich, a centralized Germanic Austria retaining her 
traditional preponderance in Germany, was realized by Schwarzen- 
berg in 1850, after Olmiitz. That of a Greater Prussia was realized 
in the North German Confederation of 1866, and was extended in 
1870-1 to cover the entire territory of the Frankfurt Klein-Deutsch- 
land. That program itself, with the capital removed from Berlin, was 
haltingly attempted under the Weimar Republic; while the other 
Frankfurt program of Gross-Deutschland, including the German 
and Czech provinces of Austria, was achieved by Hitler in 1938-9. 



3O VANISHED SUPREMACIES 

In 1800, after some forty years in politics. Lord Shelburne wrote 
in his memoirs: 

It requires experience in government to know the immense dis- 
tance between planning and executing. All the difficulty is with the 
last. It requires no small labour to open the eyes of either the public 
or of individuals, but when that is accomplished, you are not got a 
third of the way. The real difficulty remains in getting people to 
apply the principles which they have admitted, and of which they are 
now so fully convinced. Then springs the mine of private interests 
and personal animosity. ... If the Emperor Joseph had been content 
to sow and not to plant, he would have done more good, and saved 
a great deal of ill. 

Most of the men of 1848 lacked political experience, and before a 
year was out the 'trees of liberty' planted by them had withered 
away. None the less, 1848 remains a seed-plot of history. It crystal- 
lized ideas and projected the pattern of things to come; it deter- 
mined the course of the century which followed. It planned, and its 
schemes have been realized: but non vi si pensa quanto sangue 
costa. 



VI 

NATIONALITY AND LIBERTY 



LIBERTY was claimed in 1848 for the individual and liberty for 
nations, and a natural, wellnigh intrinsic connexion was assumed 
between the two; to be consummated so the theory ran in a 
peaceful fellowship of free nations. But there was a deeper antinomy 
between constitutional development in most of the States concerned, 
and the postulates of the new national movements. Individual and 
civic liberty requires a stable, uncontested political framework: in- 
ternal freedom is best secured where the communal consciousness 
coincides with the territory of the State, that is, where nationality is 
territorial in character and the existing frontiers do not give rise to 
claims by, or against, neighbours. But the politically minded cannot 
feel truly free except in a State which they acknowledge as their 
own, and in which they are acknowledged as indigenous: that is, in 
their own national State; and the nationalisms which in 1848 
entered the political arena, and held it during the next one hundred 
years, were primarily linguistic. 'The sole idea now fruitful and 
powerful in Europe is the idea of national liberty; the worship of 
principle has begun, 3 wrote Mazzini in i832. x And further: 'The 
nation is the universality of the citizens speaking the same tongue/ 2 
Territorial nationality is essentially conservative, for it is the product 
of a long historical development; nationalisms which place the 
emphasis on language almost invariably seek change, since no exist- 
ing satiated community singles out one principle for its basis the 
demand that the State should be coextensive with linguistic nation- 
ality was an internationally revolutionary postulate which, seeing 
that nations are seldom linguistically segregated, proved destructive 
both of constitutional growth and of international peace. National 
feeling was hailed in 1848 as a great and noble force which was to 
have regenerated Europe, and is denounced today as an obsession 

1 Life and Writings (1864), vol. i, p. 147. * Ibid., vol. i, p. 167. 

31 



32 VANISHED SUPREMACIES 

which has brought ruin upon her: but from the outset it was the ex- 
pression of social and political maladjustment, and has since been at 
least as much the vehicle as the source of destructive passions. 



The British and Swiss concepts of nationality are primarily terri- 
torial: it is the State which has created the nationality, and not vice 
versa. A historical process, operating within a geographically deter- 
mined framework, has produced a British island nationality which 
comprises the English, Scots, and Welsh, and to which Ulster ad- 
heres; and neither within the island, nor in the English-speaking 
world outside, could language be the criterion of nationality, or else 
Scotland and -Wales would each be split internally, while, for 
instance, Irishmen and Americans would have to count as 'English*. 
Liberty and self-government have moulded the territorial nation of 
Britain, and given content to its communal nationality. The political 
life of the British island community centres in its Parliament at 
Westminster, which represents men rooted in British soil. This is a 
territorial, and not a tribal, assembly; it was for centuries the repre- 
sentation of freeholders and householders, of men with a share in 
their native land; and 'every blade of grass in Great Britain' was 
said to be represented in it. Bound to the soil of Britain, it is limited 
to it: by now the British Parliament does not claim authority over 
communities even of British origin and English speech once they 
are rooted in other soil. And so close is the nexus between territory 
and nationality in English law that a child of whatever parentage if 
born under the British flag can claim British nationality. Indeed, the 
English language lacks a word to describe a 'nationality' distinct 
from, or contrasted with, the citizenship derived from territory and 
State; and the meaningless term of 'race 5 is often used for what in 
Continental languages is covered by 'nationality'. 

The island character of Britain and the 'genius' of its people are 
acclaimed as factors which have produced that rare entity, a real, 
and not merely nominal, territorial nationality. But the argument 
must not be pressed too far: for in the adjoining island a similar 
mixture of Celt, Anglo-Saxon, and Norman has failed to evolve an 
Irish territorial nationality. Even unity of language has failed to 
bring its inhabitants together; and now the political dissonance has 
resulted in a deliberate and laborious attempt to revive linguistic 
separateness. The geographical factor is obvious also in the rise and 



NATIONALITY AND LIBERTY 33 

development of the Swiss nationality, yet the frontiers of Switzerland 
are by no means preordained, nor amenable to a strict rational ex- 
planation. Undisputed territory has rendered possible the growth of 
orderly self-government and of civil liberty, which in turn has 
heightened the national consciousness and coherence of the com- 
munity: so that any desire for territorial expansion, still more for 
merging into another State, is completely absent. In and even before 
1848, the most far-sighted among the German nationalists desiring a 
union of all Germans, feared the growth of civic liberty and self- 
government in the separate German States as liable to consolidate 
and crystallize them, and thereby to hinder unification. Fichte 
wrote: 3 'One might say: gradually a German nation will come to be. 
But how can the conception of one nation arise at all? (Nor was 
Greece ever united. What prevented it? Answer: the single State pre- 
maturely grown solid). 54 Men cannot fit themselves into a new nation 
'once a communal existence [das Volkseyn] has entered their natural 
existence and consciousness'. All men desire civil liberty, and mutual 
understanding and trust between representatives and represented is 
the basis of national life: 'Therefore a people can no longer be re- 
formed, or added to another, once it has started steadily to progress 
towards a free constitution.* 




The Germans, more than any other European nation, had emptied 
the territorial State of communal contents and converted it into 
sheer dynastic property; and they brought forth dynasties without 
roots or substance, ready to rule over any country or people. The 
denationalized State with an unpolitical population was the product 
of German political incapacity and deadness, and of German ad- 
ministrative efficiency. The Habsburg Monarchy, an almost unique 
phenomenon in history, rooted in the German hereditary provinces, 
the Erblander, yet seemingly unrelated to any land or people, un- 
restricted in its acquisitive ambitions and singularly successful, varie- 
gated and ever changeable, was private dynastic domain, and so 
were the innumerable German pygmy States, too small to rank as 
political entities. Even Prussia, a military and administrative organ- 
ization turned State, was ready to absorb territory and population of 
any language or race. In such dynastic proprietary or organizational 

8 'Politische Fragmente aus den Jahren 1807 und 1813* Werke, vol. vii, p. 
549. * der schon mufeste Einzdstaat. 



34 VANISHED SUPREMACIES 

creations German and non-German provinces were frequently 
yoked together, while the German dynasties and bureaucracies 
of Vienna, Berlin, and St. Petersburg encouraged fresh German 
settlements in non-German lands, adding considerably to the 
residue left by earlier, medieval, migrations. Lastly, Habsburg 
non-national territorialism extended the contradiction between 
nationality and State to other parts of Europe, especially to Italy; 
and when in 1848 the demand arose for national liberty and self- 
determination, it was against the Habsburgs that it was primarily 
directed. 

The highest forms of communal life became the basis of West 
European nationalisms, the myth of the barbaric horde that of 
German nationalism. 

Nationalism in the West was based upon a nationality which was 
the product of social and political factors [writes Professor Hans 
Kohn 5 ]; nationalism in Germany did not find its justification in a 
rational societal conception, it found it in the 'natural' fact of a 
community, held together ... by traditional ties of kinship and 
status. German nationalism substituted for the legal and rational 
concept of 'citizenship' the infinitely vaguer concept of 'folk 3 , which, 
first discovered by the German humanists, was fully developed by 
Herder and the German romanticists. 

With roots which 'seemed to reach into the dark soil of primitive 
times', that concept 'lent itself more easily to the embroideries of 
imagination and the excitations of emotion'. Moreover, the Germans 
transferred e to the field of society and nationalism' Rousseau's 
ethical and cultural antithesis between the primitive and artificial. 

They established a distinction between State and nation : they 
regarded the State as a mechanical and juridical construction, the 
artificial product of historical accidents, while they believed the 
nation to be the work of nature, and therefore something sacred, 
eternal, organic, carrying a deeper justification than works of men. 6 

Here it was not the State which moulded nationality, but a pre- 
existent nationality which postulated a State. The German concept 
of nationality is linguistic and 'racial', rather than political and terri- 
torial, and it finds its final expression in the doctrine of the Volks- 
deutsche which claims that anyone of German 'race' and language 
owes allegiance, first and foremost, to his German Fatherland, of 
whatever other State such an Ausland-Deutscher may claim to be a 
citizen. Nor is that idea a mere Nazi invention: for instance, in the 
5 The Idea of Nationalism (1946), p. 331. Ibid., p. 249. 



NATIONALITY AND LIBERTY 35 

Frankfurt Parliament of 1848 the suggestion was made that Ger- 
mans resident in Paris should be represented in it; this patently 
absurd and impossible proposal received no support, yet it is symp- 
tomatic of certain trends in German thought that it should have been 
made at all. And though no other European nation has gone the 
same length as the Germans, the German concept of nationality, 
largely through the influence which German political formations 
and deformities had on Central and Eastern Europe, has become 
dominant on the Continent. 



The French Monarchy was based on territory with a common liter- 
ary language and a national culture and consciousness ; the elements 
of a rich nationality were present, but the welding force of active 
civic development was wanting; and no synthesis was reached be- 
tween the power of the State, the growing influence of Paris, and the 
vigorous life of the provinces. The final unification of France was 
achieved not through an organic growth preserving the historical 
individuality of the component parts but in the cataclysm of the 
Great Revolution: by abstract thought setting out to build on a non- 
historical basis. A new principle of unity was found in the com- 
munity of men declared free and equal; the liberty of the individual 
and his rights were placed in the forefront, yet he was completely 
integrated into the sovereign nation. The emphasis in the concept of 
nationality was shifted from the land to the people; the component 
countries and populations were merged into the Republic, one and 
indivisible: la patrie became a dogma and a principle. To the 
French people, coincident with the territory of its State, was ascribed 
a non-territorial and a-historical existence: it was as if the French 
nation had shaken off the bonds of locality and time, and taken 
wing. 'In the words of Siyes, J writes Lord Acton/ 'it was no longer 
France, but some unknown country to which the nation was trans- 
ported. . . . The idea of the sovereignty of the people, uncontrolled 
by the past, gave birth to the idea of nationality independent of the 
political influence of history. . . . Every effaceable trace and relic of 
national history was carefully wiped away the system of adminis- 
tration, the physical divisions of the country, the classes of society, 

7 In his essay on * Nationality*, published in the Home and Foreign Review, 
July 1862; reprinted in The History of Freedom and other Essays (1909), pp. 
277-8. 



36 VANISHED SUPREMACIES 

the corporations, the weights and measures, the calendar.' Here was 
a break in historical continuity which has left deep rifts in the 
nation; and the French, passionately attached both to nationality 
and liberty, have to this day failed to evolve political forms that 
would provide the consensus and stability which these two require. 
But so dazzling in its spiritual magnificence was the opening of the 
new era, so convincing intellectually the argument, so powerful the 
surge of the movement, and so generous and universal was the mes- 
sage of the Revolution, that men were slow in perceiving the losses 
which were suffered even in the realm of ideas. From the French 
Revolution dates the active rise of modern nationalism with some of 
its most dangerous features: of a mass movement centralizing and 
levelling, dynamic and ruthless, akin in nature to the horde. 

It was the agrarian movement that rendered invincible the French 
Revolution of 1789 and the Russian of 1917, but it was the cities 
which supplied these two revolutions with their ideology and their 
striking force; and a metropolitan population is the common denom- 
inator of the nation detached from its lands. Michelet, himself a 
Parisian, extolled Paris as 'the great and complete symbol' of France 
formed into one city. 

The genius of Paris is a most complex and at the same time the 
highest form of France. It might seem that something which resulted 
from the destruction of all local spirit, of all regionalism, must be 
something that is purely negative. It is not so : of all the negations of 
material, local, particular ideas results a living generality, a positive 
thing, a life force. 8 

Indeed, Michelet rejoiced at the rapid effacement of the * French 
provincial distinctions' (nos provincialitts frangaises). 

That sacrifice of the diverse interior nationalities to the great 
nationality which comprises them, undoubtedly strengthens the 
latter. ... It was at the moment when France suppressed within her- 
self the diverging French countries that she proclaimed her high and 
original revelation. 9 

And he reached the significant conclusion that 'nations will endure 
... if they do not take thought to suppress the towns, in which the 
nationalities have condensed their self-expression* (out rfauml leur 
genie}. 10 Rousseau, on the contrary, c hated the great metropolitan 
capitals which seemed to him to destroy the individuality of nations'. 11 

8 Quoted after Hans Kohn, Prophets and Peoples (1946), p. 53. 

9 Michelet, Le Peuple (1946), p. 286. 10 Op. cit., p. 288. 
11 Kohn,, The Idea of Nationalism, p. 254. 



NATIONALITY AND LIBERTY 37 

* It is in the distant provinces', he wrote, 6 . . . where the inhabitants 
move about less, and experience fewer changes of fortune and status, 
that the genius and customs (le genie et les mosurs) of a nation have 
to be studied.' Yet the contradiction between Rousseau and Michelet 
is more apparent than real, for they were speaking about different 
things: Michelet had in mind the modern nationalist movements, 
now so curiously alike all the world over, while Rousseau thought of 
the distinct contents of each nationality. 



For men rooted in the soil there is, as a rule, a hierarchy of allegi- 
ances: to their village community or estate, to their district, to their 
'country 912 for them the nation is of a naturally federal structure. 
Traditional beliefs and hereditary ties persist; class and the way of 
living determine alignments; things are individual and concrete in 
the village or the small, old-fashioned town. But in the great modern 
cities men grow anonymous, become ciphers, and are regimented; 
thinking becomes more abstract and is forced into generalizations; 
inherited beliefs are shaken and old ties are broken ; there is a void, 
uncertainty, and hidden fear which man tries to master by rational 
thought. He starts by proudly asserting the rights of the abstract 
average individual freed from the bondage of tradition, and then 
integrates him into the croxvd, a collective pereonality, which un- 
loads itself in mass movements. The mass is the refuge of the 
uprooted individual; and disintegration of spiritual values is as 
potent a process as the splitting of the atom: it releases demonic 
forces which burst all dams. The program may be social revolution, 
or national revolution, or both; the aim may be to right wrongs or 
to sweep away stultifying encumbrances; the result can be libera- 
tion, but it can hardly be liberty, which is founded on restraint and 
not on force, even if genuine idealism guides it. 'Whenever a single 
definite object is made the supreme end of the State,' wrote Lord 
Acton, 13 'be it the advantage of a class, the safety or the power of the 
country, or the support of any speculative idea, the State becomes 
for the time absolute. Liberty alone demands for its realization the 
limitation of the public authority. . . .' Liberty is the fruit of slow 
growth in a stable society; is based on respect for the rights of the 

12 In France pays is used to this day for various provinces; in eighteenth- 
century England, 'country' was still frequently used for * county*. 
18 Op. cit., p. 288. 



38 VANISHED SUPREMACIES 

individual, deeply embedded in the life and habits of the com- 
munity; is in its origin an aristocratic idea: of the self-conscious 
individual, certain of himself and his position, and therefore per- 
fectly at ease. It spreads when every man's house becomes e his 
castle': yet he must have a house and be safely rooted. 

In 1 848 the political insufficiency of the existing States of Central 
and East-Central Europe was rendered even more glaring by a peak 
period in intellectual development. Cultural entities were forming 
which transcended meaningless frontiers or disrupted territorial 
agglomerations. British political practice and French revolutionary 
doctrine provided the runways for the new movements, and the work 
of the Napoleonic period, uncompleted or reversed, their starting- 
points; while the Metternich regime, negative and uncreative, had 
hollowed out still further the forms which it endeavoured to main- 
tain, for it had impeded within them the growth of an active 
political life such as is apt to evolve nationality even within acciden- 
tal territorial frameworks. The conception of dynastic property in 
States was of feudal origin and derived from property in land: it 
fitted into the ideology of a community whose relations and con- 
nexions were bound up with the soil. But it no longer made sense in 
urban communities: and it was these, with their strong educated 
class and their new proletariat, which were now coming to the fore. 
The uprooted individual becomes conscious of his personal rights, 
rational rather than traditional; and so does the crowd detached 
from the soil. There is a profound difference between a King of 
France and an Emperor or King of the Frenchbut what if the 
territorial term does not even correspond to a human aggregate? 

The first logical inference of individual liberty and popular sover- 
eignty is the claim to national self-determination: 'One hardly 
knows what any division of the human race should be free to do, if 
not to determine with which of the various collective bodies of 
human beings they choose to associate themselves,' wrote J. S. Mill 
in 1 86 1. 14 And he rightly concluded that 'it is in general a necessary 
condition of free institutions, that the boundaries of governments 
should coincide in the main with those of nationalities'. 15 Liberty and 
nationality, especially when opposed to the concept of dynastic pro- 
perty in States, seemed therefore to be concordant ideas. The 
national movements demanded the union of nations disrupted be- 
tween dynastic domains, and the independence of other nations 
engulfed in dynastic empires. It was taken for granted that repre- 
sentative and responsible government would be practised by the 

u Considerations on Representative Government, p. 289, 15 Ibid., pp. 291-2. 



NATIONALITY AND LIBERTY 39 

sovereign nations, with full guarantees of the rights of the individual; 
and it was hopefully assumed that no free people would ever attack 
another people. The problem of the territorial squaring of intersect- 
ing national circles did not as yet vex the minds of the theoretical 
exponents of the creed of nationality. 



A foremost position among the prophets of nationality is due to 
Mazzini, a man outstanding for spiritual integrity and single-minded 
devotion to the cause he preached. A sincere lover of liberty, he 
believed in the rights and dignity of man, in the c law of progress 9 , 
and the joint destiny of humanity; and he adhered passionately to 
the tenets and postulates of a truly humanitarian liberalism. c Liberty 
is sacred, as the individual is sacred.' 'Without liberty there is no 
true morality.' And on what principle can an association of free men 
be founded except on c that of the rights of the individual 5 ? Yet he 
never wearied of contrasting the age which had placed rights in the 
forefront with the new age centred on duty the doctrine of indi- 
vidualism with that of nationality. 'The epoch of individuality is 
concluded 5 ; it has been 'replaced by the epoch of the peoples' ; 'the 
question of nationalities is destined to give its name to the century.' 
'Individuality' was e a doctrine useful perhaps ... in securing the 
exercise of some personal rights, but impotent to found nationality 
or association'; and 'it is the duty of reformers to initiate the epoch 
of association. Collective man is omnipotent upon the earth he 
treads.' Mazzini yearned for a collective life which would reveal 
itself c in regular and progressive development, similar to the gradual 
evolution of vegetation in the new world, wherein the separate trees 
continue to mingle their branches, until they form the gigantic unity 
of the forest'. Even art, 'vital art', must be a collective performance, 
inspired by the collective purpose and serving it. He was prepared 
to subordinate the entire life of the community to a political aim - 
thus Young Italy was 'to comprehend all the various manifestations 
of national life in one sole conception, and direct . . . them all ... 
towards one sole aim, the emancipation of our country and its 
brotherhood with free nations'. He saw Europe being transformed 
'into vast and united masses'. 

Mazzini himself said that his heart was stronger than his head; 
and the moral fervour, purity of purpose, and religious sincerity 
which pervade his writings words of faith and action rather than 



40 VANISHED SUPREMACIES 

of thought were apt to conceal from contemporaries how deficient 
his teachings were in substance correlated to everyday reality, and 
what dangerous germs they contained. National self-glorification and 
claims to moral superiority were of their core: which entails a 
measure of depreciation of other peoples, and is not conducive to 
international comity. Nor are self-conscious apostles of an exalted 
creed easy to work with at home. Liberty calls for sanity, a modicum 
of scepticism, and tolerance: a man must be prepared to believe that 
he may be mistaken, if he is to treat others as equals. Mazzini was 
not; he had faith and was intolerant of 'opinions'; his aim was 
action which ill accords with doubt. He retained his contempt of the 
'moderates' even after the goal of a united Italy had been achieved 
by them; and he never showed real understanding for the nature of 
Parliamentary government, which rests on a good many seeming 
absurdities but so far has proved the most efficient system for safe- 
guarding civic liberty. 

Mazzini claimed for Italy a position of primacy in the world, and 
assigned to her a unique mission. There was 'a void, a want in 
Europe'; e no power of initiative' existed in any of its peoples; a 
'regenerate Italy' could alone initiate a new and superior life and 
unity among them. Twice before has the world been united by 
Rome, Imperial and Papal; and the tradition of those two epochs 
bears witness to a further mission. 

Why should not a new Rome, the Rome of the Italian people . . . 
arise to create a third and still vaster unity; to link together and 
harmonize earth and heaven, right and duty; and utter, not to 
individuals but to peoples, the great word Association to make 
known to free men and equals their mission here below? 

But first, Italy had to be reconstituted 'as one independent sover- 
eign nation of free men and equals' ; and the basis was to be repub- 
lican and Unitarian, not monarchical and federal. 

Because without unity, there is no true nation. 

Because without unity, there is no real strength; and Italy sur- 
rounded as she is by powerful, united, and jealous nations, has need 
of strength before all things. 

Because federalism, by reducing her to the political impotence of 
Switzerland, would necessarily place her under the influence of one 
of the neighbouring nations. 

Mazzini insisted that the first thing was 'to put an end to our servile 
subjection to French influence', intellectual as much as political; and 
he seemed hardly aware of how much his c Unitarian' program was a 



NATIONALITY AND LIBERTY 4! 

response, both defensive and imitative, to the national France of the 
Great Revolution. 'I could wish 5 , he wrote in 1861, 'that all the 
artificial territorial divisions now existing were transformed into 
simple sections and circumscriptions.' 

'Young Italy', when he started organizing it in 1831, was to be 
the instrument of Italy's regeneration: it was to be 'neither a sect 
nor a party but a faith and an apostolate' ; and the emphasis was not 
on numbers but on the homogeneous character of the movement. 'I 
still believe', he wrote on another occasion, 'that next to the capacity 
of rightly leading, the greatest merit consists in knowing how and 
when to follow.' During the period which might elapse before the 
movement achieved 'the complete liberation of Italian soil', it would 
have to be directed 'by a provisional dictatorial power, concentrated 
in the hands of a small number of men'. 

The banner of Young Italy was to bear 'on the one side the words 
Liberty, Equality, Humanity ; and on the other Unity, Inde- 
pendence** 'What is it we want?' wrote Mazzini in 1832. 

We demand to exist. We demand a name. We desire to make our 
country powerful and respected, free and happy . . . 

In other words, we demand independence, unity and liberty, for 
ourselves and for our fellow-countrymen. 

. . . All are agreed in the cry of Out with the foreigner. 

The same process of unification Mazzini desired for other nations. 
He saw the future 'arousing extinct peoples, uniting divided races, 
proceeding by masses, and making individuals the mere stepping- 
stones to their ascent'. 'To reconstruct the map of Europe ... in 
accordance with the special mission assigned to each people by 
geographical, ethnographical, and historical conditions, was the first 
step necessary for all.' 'Lasting liberty can only be achieved and 
maintained in Europe by strong and compact nations, equally 
balanced in power.' 

Here was real vision of the future though not of its dangers, and 
high idealism not devoid of elements which have since become 
dominant in nationalist movements. He wanted to see his country 
'powerful and respected', not merely free and secure: 'the political 
impotence of Switzerland 3 would not have been acceptable to his 
feelings. His conscious thought turned towards humanity and em- 
braced the whole; but when stigmatizing an answer given in 1831 
by the Provisional Government of Bologna, he says that they spoke 
'like foreign barbarians'. He disliked Italy's two neighbours, France 
and Austria; his demand of an equal balance in Europe was directed 



42 VANISHED SUPREMACIES 

against the French 'instinct of domination,' and his program of 
redrawing the map of Europe against Austria's survival. He spoke 
of 'the special mission assigned to each people', but would hardly 
have endorsed those claimed by the nations themselves: they might 
not have left the * mission Italy is destined to accomplish towards 
humanity' quite as great as Mazzini conceived it. 

For in the romantic era the prophets of each nation found that 
it was destined to play the noblest part. 'La patrie, ma patrie peut 
seule sauver le monde,' wrote Michelet in 1846. The history of all 
the nations was 'mutilated', that of France alone was Complete': 
'avec elle, vous sauvez le monde.' But France, after some experience 
in the redeeming of nations, knew that such attempts do not neces- 
sarily earn the love of those to be 'saved'. 'Children, children,' wrote 
Michelet, ' I say to you : ascend a mountain, provided it is sufficiently 
high ; look to the four winds, and you will see nothing but enemies. 316 
Poland 'the Christ among the Nations' was at the time the doctrine 
of Polish Messianism propounded by her greatest poet, Mickiewicz ; 
all the other nations were described as worshipping false gods who 
were no gods, while the Poles alone were 'from first to last faithful 
to the God of their fathers'. 17 Russia as 'the God-bearing nation' was 
the creed of her most inspired writers from Khomiakov to Dostoy- 
evsky, coupled with contempt for the 'decaying West' (which did 
not impair their admiration for its achievements). Fichte, one of the 
discoverers of Germanentum, found that the Germans alone were a 
real nation, ein Urvolk, speaking a living language the other lan- 
guages were 'dead in their roots', mere echoes. He thus apostro- 
phized the Germans in 1808: 'Of all the modern nations it is you 
who carry most clearly the germ of human perfection, and it is your 
mission to develop it. Should this perish in you, all hope of humanity 
for salvation from the depths of its evils will perish with you.' 18 And 
the much applauded poetaster Geibel, wrote in 1 86 1 on ' Germany's 
Calling 5 : 

Und es mag am deutschen Wesen 
Einmal noch die Welt genesen! 

Thus every nation was exalted above the rest: compensatory 
dreams of grandeur dreamt by suffering or afflicted nations and 
uprooted individuals immature, comparable to the day-dreams of 
adolescents. Nations unified, regenerated, or resurrected, have since 
proved to be in no way better than other nations there is a limit to 

16 Le Peuple, p. 35. 17 Ksiegi narodu polskiego i pielgrzymstwa polskiego (1832). 
18 Reden an die deutsche Nation (1808). 



NATIONALITY AND LIBERTY 43 

miracles even in Wonderland, as Alice discovered when she ate cake. 
And what remains after the idealistic gilt of nationalism has worn 
off is the claim to superiority, hence to dominion. 



The impact of France on Europe during the Revolutionary and 
Napoleonic periods was the chief political factor in the arousing of 
its nationalisms. In France, united even before 1789, the process of 
revolutionary transformation had released forces which deluged 
Europe: a nation welded into an ideological entity, and freed from 
the bonds of territory and tradition, offered a spectacle of power of 
which the nature, cost, and consequences men did not as yet probe, 
but which evoked the wonder, envy, and fear of its neighbours. The 
Germans, superior in number to the French, and the Italians, not 
very much inferior, realized to what disadvantage they were put 
through the political fragmentation of their countries. Napoleon 
himself started the work of territorial 'rationalization' in both; and 
the fall of many governments and the frequent redistribution of 
territory 'deprived the political settlement of the dignity of per- 
manence' 'tradition and prescription', writes Lord Acton, 'ceased 
to be guardians of authority.' In Italy most of the previous States 
were re-established in 1815, but the foreign origin of so many of the 
rulers and the foreign support on which they relied, the foreign 
occupation of Lornbardy and Venetia, and the oppressive character 
of most of the Governments rendered the territorial divisions even 
more galling. Genoa was merged into Piedmont; and one wonders 
how much this may have contributed to Mazzini's 'unitarianism' 
if his native city had still been the glorious ancient republic, would 
he have wished to wipe out its identity? But after it had been placed 
under a dynasty strange to it, was it not more reasonable to go the 
whole length in national unification? In his 'General Instructions for 
Members of Young Italy 5 he used against a monarchical constitution 
for a united Italy the argument that 'while the populations of the 
various Italian States would cheerfully unite in the name of a 
principle which would give no umbrage to local ambition, they 
would not willingly submit to be governed by a man the offspring 
of one of those States'. 

In Germany the territorial resettlement of the Napoleonic period 
was much more extensive and more permanent. More than two 
hundred small principalities, ecclesiastical States, and Free Cities 



44 VANISHED SUPREMACIES 

were incorporated in the big and middle-sized States whose char- 
acter was thereby changed very considerably. After the Rhindand 
and Westphalia had in 1815 been included in Prussia, the Roman 
Catholics came to form more than one-third of her population; the 
inclusion of Franconia and the Palatinate in Bavaria raised the pro- 
portion of her Protestants to over one-fourth of the whole; in Baden, 
originally a Protestant country, the, Roman Catholics now formed 
two-thirds of the population, and in Wiirttemberg one-third. The 
West-German Roman Catholics felt no affection for the Hohen- 
zollerns, nor the Protestants, say, of Nuremberg for the Wittelsbachs, 
etc. And both in 1814-15 and in 1848, the small mediatized princes 
or Knights of the Empire were among the foremost champions of a 
united Germany: Stein, the Gagerns, Leiningen, and Chlodwig zu 
Hohenlohe-Schillingsfiirst are outstanding examples. Men whose old 
territorial rights had been extinguished, or whose allegiance had 
been changed, wished to see all territorial rights merged in a Great 
Germany: in 1848 Stock-Preussen or Alt-Bay ern showed a high 
degree of Partikularismus (local territorial consciousness), especially 
in the rural districts, but the newly acquired provinces clamoured 
for German national unity, the Roman Catholics hoping for a 
Habsburg Empire, and the Protestants for one under the Hohen- 
zollerns. The territorial shufflings and reshufflings in the Napoleonic 
period and at the Congress of Vienna facilitated the rise of a move- 
ment for a united Germany. 

'The German people wanted a strong and free State: this is the 
content of the German revolution of 18489,* writes its historian, 
Veit Valentin, in the first volume of his work; 19 but by the time he 
reached the second, 'free' dropped out: 'The strong national Reich 
was the foremost aim of the German revolution.' 20 And while Maz- 
zini's counterpart to the watchwords of the French Revolution was 
Independence, Unity, Liberty, that of the German revolution of 
1848 was Einheit, Freiheit, und Macht ('Unity, Freedom, and 
Power'); which was soon abbreviated to Einheit und Macht. Basser- 
mann, one of the foremost leaders of the South-Western Liberals and 
Chairman of the Constitutional Committee., said in the National 
Assembly on 16 February 1849: 'If I knew the unity and future 
greatness of Germany were to be attained through a temporary 
renunciation of all the freedoms (sdmmtlicher Freiheitsrechte), I 
should be the first to submit to such a dictatorship.* And Stremayr, 
an Austrian member of the Left, said on 27 October 1848: 'Were 

10 Geschichte der deutschen Revolution von 1848-49, vol. i, p. 246. 
20 Ibid., vol. ii, p. 31. 



NATIONALITY AND LIBERTY 45 

Slavia to offer me freedom, and Germania to put me in chains, I 
would still follow Germany, for I am convinced that a united Ger- 
many will lead me to freedom/ Thus the emphasis was on nation- 
ality rather than on liberty, and even where liberty was placed in the 
forefront, it was not always for its own sake but rather as the means 
for realizing the overriding purpose of national unification. As 
dynastic interests and rivalries were the main obstacle, and it was not 
possible to square them by negotiation or compromise, national unity 
could have been easiest achieved in a German Republic, one and 
indivisible; and even to the moderates the doctrine of a joint Ger- 
man national sovereignty, superior to the claims of dynasties and 
constituent States, supplied the basis for their endeavours to achieve 
unity. But everywhere c the German revolution stopped at the steps 
to the thrones' ; and not one dynasty was overthrown. Indeed, again 
for the sake of unity some republicans considered it necessary to re- 
nounce their program: C I desire German unity,* wrote Heinrich 
Simon, a leader of the Left, in April 1848, 'but it would be impos- 
sible if in a few places the republic was now proclaimed.' 

Aggrieved national feelings were perhaps the greatest and most 
universal force behind the revolution of 1848. Here are two passages 
from the oath to be taken by members of Young Italy: 21 

By the blush that rises to my brow when I stand before citizens of 
other lands, to know that I have no rights of citizenship, no country 
and no national flag . . . 

By the memory of our former greatness, and the sense of our 
present degradation . . . 

And Prince Chlodwig zu Hohenlohe-Schillingsfurst wrote in 
December i847: 22 

One reason for dissatisfaction is universal in Germany, and every 
thinking German feels it deeply and painfully. It is the nullity 
[Nullitfit] of Germany vis-i-vis of other States. ... It is sad and 
humiliating not to be able to say proudly abroad: C I am a German', 
not to see the German flag flying on ships, nor find a consul, but to 
have to say: 'I am a Kurhesse, Darmstadter, Biickeburger, my 
Fatherland was once a great, powerful country, but is now split into 
thirty-eight fragments. 5 

And a Memorandum presented on 19 October 1848 by the Radical 
minority on the Constitutional Committee (including H. Simon and 

M Mazzini, Life and Writings, vol. i, p. i n. 

18 Denkwilrdigkeiten des Filrsten Chlodwig zu Hohmlohs-Schittingsfurst, edited 
by F .Curtius (1906), vol. i, p. 38. 



46 VANISHED SUPREMACIES 

Robert Blum) declared that the German Revolution had been pro- 
voked as much by the princes suppressing popular freedom as by 
their 'failing to unite with a view to establishing Germany's power'. 
Germany's Macht was a concern of the Left no less than of the 
Centre and Right. 

The longing for German unity was strongest where the State 
could not endue its educated and semi-educated classes with a ' con- 
sciousness of power 5 (Machtbewusstseiri), which is the German sub- 
stitute for freedom, as the organized violence of war is the German 
version of revolution: a commutation of particular importance in a 
study of liberty and nationality, many other nationalisms having 
since developed along similar lines. South-western, Western, and 
Central Germany were most solidly behind the endeavours of the 
Frankfurt Assembly: these were regions of small or middle-sized 
States and of disaffected provinces, where the most extensive terri- 
torial reshuffles and transfers of allegiance had occurred, and where 
the impact of France the influence of French ideas, and the fear of 
a new French invasion- was felt most acutely. Austria and Prussia, 
or even Bavaria and Hanover, had developed a 'State consciousness' 
(Staatsbewus$tsein\ the territorial nationality of 'subjects'; but their 
'nationality' being of dynastic or organizational origin, and not 
based on a free communal life, was as acquisitive as the dynasty or 
organization which had created the State. 23 Yet, their territorial 
ambitions being more realistic (they had existing States for basis), 
were moderate when compared with the formless, unmeasured, 
visionary Pan-Germanism of more or less stateless Germans: most of 
the extravagant German claims of the two World Wars were raised 
and applauded by the 'freedom-loving' ideologues of the Frankfurt 
Parliament of 1848. 

'What is the German's Fatherland?' The Frankfurt Assembly, 
being the parliament not of an existing State but of one to be 
created, had to decide the question. And a double, contradictory 
answer was given: Was deutsch spricht, soil deutsch werden ('What- 
ever speaks German, shall become German'), and Was deutsch ist y 
soil deutsch bleiben ('Whatever is German, shall remain German'). 
Thus linguistic claims were combined with another set based on 
history and the status possidendi, and each in detail was further 
garnished and extended strategy, geography, the presumed wish 

23 The German language has no word to describe the 'nationality* of the 
separate States, and in 1848 the term employed for those territorial nationalities 
was Stamme, which means 'tribes' and was originally employed for the Franks, 
Swabians, Saxons, etc. To attach it to territorial formations, some of as recent 
origin as 1815, is rather comic. 



NATIONALITY AND LIBERTY 47 

or interest of some 'inferior' race, or the 'needs' of German expan- 
sion supplying the arguments. Even the linguistic test, wie weit die 
deutsche Zunge klingt (as far as thdf German language resounds) was 
indefinite, for it was left open how many Germans had to speak at 
the top of their voices for the claim to be established. Poland, mar- 
tyred, partitioned Poland, the victim of Tsarism, enjoyed quite 
exceptional popularity with the exponents of liberty and nationality 
in 1848; and the Frankfurt Pre-Parliament started off with a resolu- 
tion declaring the dismemberment of Poland a 'shameful wrong', 
and her restoration 'a sacred duty of the German nation': but at no 
time did it occur to anyone that the Polish-speaking districts of West 
Prussia and Upper Silesia were due to the Poles, while in Posnania, 
recognized as Polish, a demarcation line was drawn between Ger- 
man and Polish districts which, after several consecutive corrections 
each favouring the Germans, gave the Poles less than one-fourth of a 
province in which they formed two-thirds of the population. 

Even less liberal was the attitude of the Frankfurt Parliament con- 
cerning Trieste and the Trentino. Schuselka, a leader of the Left, 
thus defended the T erritorialpolitik of the National Assembly in 
July 1848: c Such must be our basis, for a great nation requires space 
(Raum) to fulfil its world destiny (Weltberuf), and I would rather 
die a thousand times than, for instance, renounce Trieste because 
they speak Italian.' Don Giovanni a Prato, a leading figure in the 
Trentino, had, against the opinion of the Trentino emigres who had 
left with the Lombard insorti, persuaded the population to take part 
in the elections to the Frankfurt Parliament in the hope of having 
the national claims of the Trentino endorsed by it: 24 he left Frank- 
furt in December 1848 a deeply disappointed man. (Giovanni de 
Pretis, Count Festi, 25 and G. Vettorazzi had done so before him.) 

When the Czechs, under Palacky's leadership, refused to send 
representatives to the German National Assembly, their refusal pro- 
duced a storm of indignation among the Frankfurt 'Liberals': it was 
described as e a direct challenge to the territorial integrity of Ger- 
many', and their absence as in no way affecting the right of the 
Assembly to legislate for the Czech provinces. There was unanimity 
in condemning any possible claim of so-called 'a-historic' nations to 
an independent national existence. Heinrich von Gagern, an out- 
standing personality who dominated as no one else the Frankfurt 
Parliament, thus defined on 126 October 1848 Germany's 'task in 
the East' : 'to include as satellites nations on the Danube which have 

24 See M. Manfroni, Don Giovanni a Prato (1920), pp. 50-1. 
46 See Livio Marchett, // Trentino ml Risorgimento (1913). 



48 VANISHED SUPREMACIES 

neither a call nor a claim to independence. 5 And Wilhelm Jordan, 
one of the first on the Left to translate his political radicalism into 
ultra-nationalist terms, spoke on 20 June 1848 of 'the attempts of 
puny nationalities [Nationalitdtchen] to found their own lives in our 
midst, and like parasites to destroy ours'. Even Marx and Engels 
admitted the right only of 'the great European nations' to c a separ- 
ate and independent national existence', but not of 'those numerous 
small relics of peoples' which have been (or should have been) ab- 
sorbed by the 'more powerful nations'. But as they did not deny 
that right to the Magyars, who were hardly equal in number to the 
Czechs, and much inferior to the Yugoslavs and Rumans, one must 
presume that, unconsciously, these German middle-class prophets of 
class-war assigned the privilege of nationhood to peoples with a well- 
developed upper and middle class, and denied it to such as consisted 
almost entirely of 'a-historicaP peasants and workmen. 



The linguistic nationalism of the Germans, through its lore and 
example as well as through its impact, in turn stimulated the growth 
of linguistic nationalisms among their eastern neighbours, especially 
in the Habsburg Monarchy. But as Austria's Staat sides was terri- 
torial, the Czech or Slovene cultural revival, so long as it remained 
a-political, received lenient, or even friendly, treatment from the 
dynasty and the feudal aristocracy, whose territorial concepts it did 
not as yet contravene. 'There is no such thing as an Austrian patriot- 
ism/ declared a speaker in the Hungarian Parliament in 1848. It is 
as unthinkable as a specific patriotism on the various estates of 
Prince Esterhazy.' Wherein he was wrong: every territorial unit is 
capable of developing a specific patriotism 26 in those truly rooted in 
it; which non-territorial mass-formations may, however, in time cut 
across, overshadow, or even destroy. 'Patriotism' need not be one of 
'storm and stress'; there can be also a patriotism interested in what 
exists, and desirous of preserving it: such conservative sentiment, of 
varying intensity, gathers round every existing territorial formation* 
The nationalities of the Habsburg Monarchy, barring the Italians 
and Serbs, all had, at one time or another, some interest of their own 
in its survival, developing accordingly their specific type of 'Austrian 

26 An amusing example of 'estate patriotism', amazing in its inhumanity, 
occurs in Bismarck's early correspondence. On 9 April 1845, at a time of great 
floods, he wrote to his sister: *I am proud to be able to report that my rivulet 
[Nebenfltus], the Zampel, has drowned a carrier and his horse* (see Horst Kohl, 
Bismarckbriefe (yth edition, 1898), pp. 24-5). 



NATIONALITY AND LIBERTY 49 

patriotism'. This was strongest and most permanent among the 
Austrian Germans: German was the official language of the Mon- 
archy, they held the central position within it, supplied the largest 
proportion of administrative officials and army officers, and felt as 
if they were partners of the dynasty even a democracy is apt to 
assume the role or inheritance of its late rulers. 27 But the fact that the 
Habsburg Monarchy tended to show tolerance to nationalities which 
did not threaten its territorial integrity, even in 1848 very much 
sharpened the hostility to it of the extremer German nationalists, 
especially in the Czech provinces, and enhanced their desire to break 
up the Monarchy and engulf its western provinces in a united Ger- 
many, which would enable them to crush completely the Czech 
national movement: a program openly avowed in the Frankfurt Par- 
liament. Naturally the danger of such inclusion made the Czechs 
wish for Austria's survival: they developed the idea of 'Austro- 
Slavism' of the Habsburg Monarchy reconstructed on a Slav basis. 
This program enjoyed the support of a great many aristocrats who 
were of very mixed national origin and talked at home German or 
French, but developed a Bohemian territorial nationality, favoured 
the Czech national movement (as dynasties, whatever their origin, 
assume the nationality of the country over which they rule), and 
demanded within the framework of the Habsburg Monarchy, auton- 
omy for the Czech provinces, expecting to maintain their own prim- 
acy in the provincial self-government. When the Czech national 
movement assumed during the next fifty years a markedly demo- 
cratic character, the Bohemian territorial nationalism of the 
magnates steeply declined. 

The Magyars were at all times opposed to a federalist reconstruc- 
tion of the Habsburg Monarchy which would have conceded terri- 
torial or linguistic rights to any of the 'subject* races, since freedom 
for the Czechs (the nearest kinsmen of the Slovaks), the Yugoslavs, 
the Ruthenes, or the Rumans in Austria, would have encouraged 
parallel movements in Hungary; and the Magyars, who insisted on 
Hungary's right to an independent State existence, within that State 
insisted on their own absolute dominion over Slavs and Rumans. 
They were bitterly hostile to the concept of a Gesammtmonarchie (a 
monarchy embracing all Habsburg dominions) upheld by the 
Vienna centralists, for which these tried to enlist the support of 
Hungary's subject races. Yet while all Magyars were united in the 

27 When in 1536 the citizens of Geneva drove out the Bishop and the 
Vidomne, they cried with joy, 'Nous sommes princes,* and proceeded to rule 
in an autocratic manner thirty surrounding villages. 



5O VANISHED SUPREMACIES 

defence of Hungary's constitutional rights and territorial integrity, 
the views on how best to secure them ranged from those of national- 
ists even more enrage than Kossuth, to those of the Old-Hungarian 
magnates who on a conservative basis wished to arrive at a com- 
promise with the dynasty and the Vienna Court; and the less radical 
a group was politically the more tolerant it was as a rule towards the 
non-Magyar nationalities of Hungary: an early example of conflict 
between nationality and liberty, and, in the case of Kossuth, of a 
spurious reputation for liberalism. 

In 1 848 most of the Poles were hostile to the Habsburgs and the 
Vienna Government. They still expected an early restoration of a 
free and united Poland; in 1846 they had experienced the catas- 
trophe of the West Galician jacquerie in which Polish peasants, in- 
cited by Austrian officials, turned on the Polish gentry as these were 
about to start an insurrection of a national and, in fact, democratic, 
character; and in East Galicia they were faced by an alliance of the 
Vienna Government with the Ruthene peasants on a socially and 
nationally anti-Polish basis. But even then there was a group of 
Polish aristocrats and Conservatives who aimed at a co-operation 
with the Habsburgs such as was established afterwards. And while 
the Poles continued to suffer persecution under Russia and Prussia, 
in Austria they attained a privileged position, enjoying after 1867 
self-government and dominion over the Ruthenes. Consequently 
during the fifty years preceding the First World War, they developed 
a remarkable Austrian patriotism. 

The Slovenes, Croats, Rurnans, Slovaks, and Ruthenes or 
Ukrainians in various periods developed varying degrees of pro- 
Austrian feeling; but in time all these Austrian 'patriotisms' were 
disappointed, barring that of the 'partners' of the dynasty. No civic 
territorial nationality could unite the different nationalities of 
Austria-Hungary, for such community is possible only between 
linguistic groups acknowledging each other as equals, whereas the 
Germans, Magyars, and Poles claimed cultural, social, and political 
superiority over those on whom they looked down as 'a-historic' sub- 
ject races, not entitled to an independent national existence. The 
Compromise of 1867 resulted in a division of the Habsburg 
dominions into three distinct domains: Western Austria of the 
Germans -approximately the territory which in 1848 these had 
wanted to see included in the Frankfurt Parliament ; Hungary of the 
Magyars; and Galicia, which in 1919-20 the Poles managed to 
carry over entire into the restored Poland against the armed opposi- 
tion of the Ruthenes. 



NATIONALITY AND LIBERTY 51 



8 

In 1789 two nations on the European continent, Poland and Hun- 
gary, could look back to an unbroken tradition of Parliamentary 
Government, with a concomitant territorial nationality and a high 
degree of personal liberty for their citizens; these, however, in con- 
trast to England, were of a single Estate or caste: the gentry, a very 
numerous body comprising about one-tenth of the population, yet 
an exclusive, privileged class. Towards the end of the Middle Ages, 
under the impact of German aggression or infiltration, the Poles had 
developed an early form' of conscious linguistic nationality. But in 
their own subsequent expansion to the east they changed their con- 
cept of nationality: Poland and Lithuania, constitutionally united, 
became a gentry-Republic (under elected kings), based not on a 
common language or religion but on caste: the gentry-nation spoke 
Polish, White and Little Russian, and Lithuanian; in some western* 
and northern districts also German and Swedish; and it comprised 
even Moslem Tartars, Armenians, and baptized Jews. Citizenship 
depended on being of the gentry, or being received into it. In 
Poland, in the sixteenth century, the official language was Latin, in 
Lithuania it was White Russian ; and the Greek Orthodox and Pro- 
testants together may at one time have equalled in number the 
Roman Catholics, But gradually, acr.oss Reformation and Counter- 
Reformation and the Uniat Church, the overwhelming majority of 
the gentry joined Rome, and with Polish superseding Latin as the 
literary language, became Polonized. Similarly in Hungary the 
gentry-class was of very mixed national extraction, and its nation- 
ality was originally territorial rather than linguistic; the language of 
State and Parliament was Latin, and so remained till the nineteenth 
century, when a growing Magyar linguistic nationalism transformed 
the nature of the Hungarian State. 

Had the landed gentry of the non-Polish or non-Magyar provinces 
remained united to the peasants in language and religion, the terri- 
torial nationality of the two realms might possibly have been capable 
of modern development and readjustments, and might consequently 
have survived. But when the deep cleavage of the agrarian problem 
became exacerbated by differences in language and religion, a joint 
territorial nationality became utterly impossible: Poland and Hun- 
gary could claim their historic frontiers only so long as the peasant 
masses did not count politically. Consequently the modem Polish 



52 VANISHED SUPREMACIES 

and Magyar nationalisms, which were no longer those of 'single- 
class' communities but which none the less aspired to taking over the 
territorial inheritance of the gentry-nations, were driven into hope- 
less contradictions and manoeuvres. In 1848 these two nations were 
looked upon as foremost champions of liberty and nationality: they 
had had within their historic frontiers a fuller and freer political life 
than most Continental nations, and therefore a stronger civic con- 
sciousness and patriotism; and now they were fighting the despots of 
the Holy Alliance to re-establish those free and independent com- 
munities; that these had in the meantime become social anachron- 
isms and could not be rebuilt on modern foundations, was realized 
by very few among the men of 1 848 in Western and Central Europe, 
and was never acknowledged. 



The revolution of 1 848 was urban in its character and ideology. It 
started in the capitals, spread to other towns, and was directed or 
turned to account by the urban middle-class intelligentsia. The 
countryside remained indifferent or hostile, or, if revolutionary, pur- 
sued aims extraneous and alien to the distinctive purposes of that 
year. In France it was Paris which made the February Revolution 
without encountering any active opposition from the provinces ; but 
the June Days and the Presidential election of December 1 848 dis- 
closed the social conservatism of the peasantry. In Italy the peasants 
gave no support to the liberal and national revolution which re- 
mained entirely urban, while in Sicily and Naples the rural move- 
ment bore a purely agrarian character. In northern Germany the 
countryside was almost entirely conservative, far more so than ap- 
peared in the April elections, and Prussian Junkers, like Bismarck, 
chafed to lead their peasants against Berlin. F. Th. Vischer, a Wiirt- 
temberger who in the Frankfurt Parliament belonged to the Left, 
wrote to a friend on 28 May 1848: 'Here are Pomeranians and East 
Prussians, some of them hefty fellows with th$ best will who say that 
if we proceed too sharply, we shall provoke a reaction not from the 
Government but from the provinces. ... A German Vendee.* 28 And 
there was more than one potential Vendee in Germany; while 
revolutionary agrarian movements in Silesia, Baden, Wiirttem- 
berg, or Hesse threatened to result in jacqueries, but were com- 

28 ' Achtzehn Briefe axis der Paulskirche*, edited by Engelhaaf, Deutsche Revue 
(*9<>9)- 



NATIONALITY AND LIBERTY 53 

pletely indifferent to national or constitutional ideas. In the Habs- 
burg Monarchy there was a strong peasant movement but again of a 
purely agrarian character: the leaders in the Austrian Parliament 
clearly realized that once the peasant was freed from the remainders 
of servitude and from feudal rights and dues, and was given his land, 
he would turn reactionary. On the whole Governments and Opposi- 
tions alike avoided appealing to the peasants, a dark, incalculable 
force which, if roused, could not easily be directed or mastered. Thus 
neither the landed classes nor the peasants had a share in determin- 
ing the character of the revolution of 1848 which used to be des- 
cribed as 'the awakening of the Peoples'. 



10 

The year 1848 marks, for good or evil, the opening of the era of 
linguistic nationalisms shaping mass personalities and producing 
their inevitable conflicts : a nation which bases its unity on language 
cannot easily renounce groups of co-nationals intermingled with 
those of the neighbouring nation; and an alien minority within the 
State, or an intensely coveted terra irredenta, are both likely to dis- 
tort the life of the nation, and impair the growth of its civic liberty. 
The alien community within the disputed borderland, hostile to the 
State and possibly plotting against it, provokes repressions which are 
apt to abase the standards of government; while fellow-countrymen 
across the border awaiting liberation keep up international tensions, 
which again are destructive of a free civic life. Moreover, the 
strongly knitted mass formations of the neo-horde are based on 
positive feelings which keep the nation together; but the negative 
feelings, which have to be suppressed within the group, turn with 
increased virulence against e the stranger in our midst', or against the 
neighbour. Freedom is safest in the self-contained community with a 
territorial nationality ; and where this has not by some miracle or the 
grace of God grown up spontaneously, it might perhaps best be 
secured by a transfer of populations. But it serves no purpose to 
expostulate with history: on ne fait pas le proces aux revolutions, nor 
to any other historical phenomena. 



VII 

THE FIRST MOUNTEBANK 
DICTATOR 



RECURRENT situations in history reproduce analogous forms; there 
is a morphology of politics. But to the basic repetition and the indi- 
vidual variations of organic growth an element is added peculiar to 
man: imitation engendered by historical memory. The modern 
dictatorship arises amid the ruins of an inherited social and political 
structure, in the desolation of shattered loyalties it is the desperate 
shift of communities broken from their moorings. Disappointed, dis- 
illusioned men, uprooted and unbalanced, driven by half-conscious 
fears and gusts of passions, frantically seekanew raUyir^^ 
dreams and cravings projectecfnTrt^^ 



gather round some figure. It is the monolatry of the political desert. 
The more pathological the situation the less important is the intrin- 
sic worth of the idol. His feet may be of clay and his ...facejnay be a 
blanket J^ ofjthejrors^^ 

meaning and power, 

Such morbid cults have by now acquired a tradition and ideology, 
and have evolved their own routine and political vocabulary. With 
Napoleon I things were serious and real the problems of his time 
and his mastery of them; he raised no bogies and whipped up no 
passions; he aimed at restoring sanity and at consolidating the 
positive results of the Revolution; and if, in superposing the Empire 
on the Republic and in recreating a Realm of the West, he evoked 
the memories of Caesar and Charlemagne, the appeal was decora- 
tive rather than imitative. There would have been no occasion for 
his dictatorship had not the living heritage of French history been 
obliterated by revolution ; but his system lias left its own unhealthy 
legend, a jackal-ghost which prowls in the wake of the 'Red spectre'. 
Napoleon III and Boulanger were to be the plagiarists, shadowy and 
counterfeit, of Napoleon I; and Mussolini and Hitler were to be 

54 



THE FIRST MOUNTEBANK DICTATOR 55 

unconscious reproducers of the methods of Napoleon III. For these 
are inherent in plebiscitarian Caesarism, or so-called 'Caesarian 
democracy', with its direct appeal to the masses: demagogical 
slogans ; disregard of legality in spite of a professed guardianship of 
law and order; contempt of political parties and the parliamentary 
system, of the educated classes and their values; blandishments and 
vague, contradictory promises for all and sundry; militarism; 
gigantic, blatant displays and shady corruption. Panem et circenses 
once more and at the end of the road, disaster. 

The first coups of Louis-Napoleon, at Strasbourg in 1 836 and at 
Boulogne in 1840, were miserable failures, like Hitler's Munich 
Putsch of 1923. Both men were treated with humane and neglectful 
forbearance, and in the enforced leisure of their comfortable prisons 
they composed their programmatic works Des I dees Napoleoni- 
ennes and Mein Kampf. Not even at a later stage did the political 
leaders realize the full gravity of the situation thinking in terms of 
their own and not in those of the masses, they could not descry 
either in Louis-Napoleon or in Hitler a possible ruler or dictator. 
Louis-Napoleon escaped from his prison at Ham in 1 846, and settled 
in London. On the outbreak of the February Revolution he hastened 
to Paris, a professed supporter of the Republic; but when requested 
by the Provisional Government to leave the country, he complied, 
and the Chartist crisis of April found him acting the special con- 
stable in London. In the by-elections of 4 June he was returned to 
the Constituent Assembly by four de'partements, but rather than 
face an imbroglio, he withdrew. 'When one is weak, one has to sub- 
mit and await better days,' he wrote to his cousin Napoleon (Tlon- 
plon') in 1844; and on 5 June 1848: 'In these moments of exalta- 
tion, I prefer to remain in the background.' Re-elected in September 
by five constituencies, he took his seat, and read out a brief address 
affirming his devotion 'to the defence of order and the strengthening 
of the Republic'. 'These correct words, spoken in a toneless voice, 
were received with perfunctory applause, 3 writes his latest bio- 
grapher, Mr. Albert Guerard. 1 He looked 

disarmingly unobtrusive. His torso was long and his legs short; he 
moved awkwardly, with a shuffling gait; his head sat heavily on his 
broad and round shoulders; his countenance was pale and immobile; 
his eyes were small, heavy-lidded, of an undefinable grey. ... He 
was not downright ludicrous; he was not exactly commonplace; he 
certainly was not impressive. 

1 Albert Guerard: Napoleon III. Harvard University Press, London: Gum- 
berlege, 1945, 



56 VANISHED SUPREMACIES 

When the Assembly, enmeshed in constitutional doctrine and 
democratic dogma, decided to have the President of the Republic 
elected by popular vote, and not by the Legislature, the door was 
opened for a Bonapartist restoration. To preclude it, an amendment 
was moved debarring members of former ruling families. 

Every eye turned towards Louis-Napoleon., for the amendment 
was aimed at him alone. He went up to the tribune and, in a few 
halting sentences, uttered with a strangely un-French accent, he pro- 
tested against 'the calumnies constantly hurled at his head', stam- 
mered, ended abruptly and shuffled back to his seat. 

The amendment was withdrawn, its mover himself describing it, 
'after what we have just seen and heard', as superfluous. On 10 
December 1848, in the Presidential election, Louis-Napoleon 
received 5,400,000 votes against the 1,800,000 of his four oppon- 
ents; Lamartine poet, orator, and leader in the Provisional Govern- 
ment found himself at the bottom of the poll, with a mere 17,000. 
'The world is a strange theatre, 5 remarks Alexis de Tocqueville; c had 
Louis-Napoleon been a wise man or a genius, he would never have 
become President of the Republic.' 

c The remote lack-lustre gaze of his grey eyes, now that it was 
fraught with destiny, could be declared sphinx-like or prophetic, 5 
writes Guerard. And Pierre de La Gorce, historian of the Second 
Empire, says that the change which success produced in the public 
estimate of the same traits of Louis-Napoleon's character was like a 
picture advertising a hair-restorative: 'before 5 and 'after'. Between 
these two appraisements, the taciturn, shadowy, impassive figure of 
Napoleon III has puzzled the century which has gone by, as the 
shrieking, convulsed, hysterical figure of Hitler will puzzle the one 
to come. 'A sphinx without a riddle,' was Bismarck's summing up 
of Napoleon III; 'from afar something, near at hand nothing'; 'a 
great unfathomed incapacity.' And N. W. Senior reports Tocque- 
ville having said to him in January 1852: 

Louis-Napoleon is essentially a copyist. He can originate nothing; 
his opinions, his theories, his maxims, even his plots, all are borrowed, 
and from the most dangerous of mod els from a man who, though 
he possessed genius and industry such as are not seen , . . once in a 
thousand years, yet ruined himself by the extravagance of his 
attempts. 

But Napoleon III, said Grimblot to Senior in 1855, 'lacked industry 
and capacity' and on this point most contemporaries are agreed. 



THE FIRST MOUNTEBANK DICTATOR 57 

When we were together in England [continued Grimblot] I saw 
much of him. We have walked for hours in the Green Park. His 
range of ideas is narrow, and there is always one which preoccupies 
him . . . and shuts out the others. . . . He learns little from his own 
meditations, for he does not balance opposite arguments; he learns 
nothing from conversation, for he never listens. 

And an unnamed friend of Senior's, in 1858: c . . . as he is ignorant, 
uninventive, and idle, you will see him flounder from one failure to 
another. 3 Guizot, Thiers, Montalembert, Falloux, Duvergier de 
Hauranne, Victor Hugo, Ampere, Beaumont, they all despised 
celui-ci; but the opposition of the intellectuals was tolerated because, 
as Tocqueville put it, their writings were not read 'by the soldier or 
by the proletaire 3 ; and the principle of his regime was to rest on 
the army and the 



c Within the last fifty years', writes Guerard, 'Napoleon III has 
won the respect and sympathy of practically every critical historian.' 
Sympathy, perhaps; but respect is based on a man's actions, and not 
on his dreams and intentions. La Gorce, summing up a life's work, 
wrote about Napoleon III in 1933: 'Baleful (funeste) he was: still, 
hardly have I written the word than I would like to soften it, for he 
was good and even enlightened; but no sooner did the light break 
through than it was clouded.' Nor does Guerard 's book, the product 
of years of study, yield a very different result, though the story is 
often lyricized, especially in an attempt to represent Napoleon III as 
a far-sighted reformer, a 'Saint-Simon on horseback' whose regime 
is of the most 'vital importance'. Moreover praise is offered of his 
plebiscitarian dictatorship, of 'direct democracy' as contrasted with 
'parliamentary practices'. None the less, the picture which emerges 
of Napoleon III is hardly fit to inspire respect in the reader. 

Guerard seeks to understand Napoleon III, but finds no solution 
to the enigma, 'His elusive physiognomy changes altogether with the 
light that is turned upon it.' His mind was 'complex, perhaps tortu- 
ous'; 'perhaps unfathomable, perhaps simply nebulous'; there was 
c no flash of intuition, no capacity for sudden decision'. Princess 
Mathilde, Louis-Napoleon's cousin and at one time his betrothed, 
exasperated by his taciturnity, wished she could 'break his head, to 
find out what there is in it'; and both she and her brother, Prince 
Napoleon, 'ascribed his caution to mental hesitancy or flabbiness of 
will', He had grown up 'in an atmosphere of elegiac resignation,* 
writes Guerard; and in his youth he was 'retarded in development, 
"gently stubborn", as his mother called him'. He was a 'damaged 



58 VANISHED SUPREMACIES 

soul'. But, like La Gorce, Gu^rard stresses Napoleon Ill's 'profound 
and unaffected kindliness', his gravity, courtesy, and gentleness c a 
man of '48', e a democratic humanitarian'. In his own eyes Napoleon 
III was 'a providential man', an instrument of the Divine Purpose' ; 
but even that faith 'was "gently obstinate", not blatant'. 'I am sure 
that the shade of the Emperor protects and blesses me,' he wrote 
from Ham in 1842. Even in his obsessionist ideas he lacked energy 
and ruthlessness. How then did such a man succeed? 

By the time the Napoleonic disaster had assumed 'dramatic value 
and epic grandeur', in the late 'twenties, Romanticism adopted 'the 
Napoleonic theme', writes Gu6rard; and in the 'thirties the Emperor 
turned 'into a hero of folk-lore'. The July Monarchy, prosaic and 
dull, could not afford to dramatize conservatism without playing 
into the hands of the Legitimists, nor move to the Left, for fear of 
the Republicans; but they tried to surfeit France with Napoleon's 
glory, "retrospective, and therefore safe'. As was proved by Louis- 
Napoleon's failure at Boulogne, this was then 'but a legend . . . 
something to be enjoyed rather than to be believed in or acted upon 
... a sufficient motive for a pageant, but not for a revolution'. How 
did it ever come to life? Even in the early months of the Revolution 
'Bonapartism was advancing . . . with a strict minimum of ideology, 
organization, and expenditure' 'it held itself in reserve'. But had 
it ever more than a minimum of ideas and resources? To Gu6rard, 
Louis-Napoleon is not 'merely the passive heir of the Legend' -he 
reshaped it 'in his own image' and by his pamphlets 

created in the public mind that paradoxical association between 
Bonapartism and humanitarian democracy which was Louis- 
Napoleon's special contribution to politics. It was not exclusively 
the Emperor's nephew, it was also the man who had written On the 
Extinction of Pauperism, who was chosen by the people in December 
1848. 

'The chief quality in Louis-Napoleon's style is its directness, . . . 
His words are historical documents.' Not many who have read 
those pamphlets are likely to endorse such praise. La Gorce says that 
they are neither good nor bad, but significant; turgid, contradictory, 
and baffling, both naive and cunning; they develop commonplaces 
'with a sustained solemnity'; but occasionally, he claims, there 
occurs an original idea. Some of us have failed to discover any. In 
fact, had the electorate been sufficiently advanced to read Louis- 
Napoleon's writings, fewer might have voted for him- but what 
percentage is likely even to have heard of them? 

According to Guerard, Louis-Napoleon was elected on his own 



THE FIRST MOUNTEBANK DICTATOR 59 

program of 'authoritarian democracy 5 , known, understood, and 
'freely endorsed by 5,400,000 votes'. All political parties stood for 
'the privileges of some elite': with the Legitimists the criterion was 
social superiority, with the Orleanists property, with the Repub- 
licans profession of their creed. Bonapartism, it is claimed, brushed 
aside the 'intermediate powers and special interests' Parliament 
and plutocracy in order to realize the 'unformulated doctrine' of 
the people: 'direct contact between sovereign and masses.' This kind 
of argument formed indeed the stock-in-trade of Louis-Napoleon. 
In his I dees Napoleoniennes 'the tutelary and democratic power of 
the plebeian hero . . . who was the true representative of our revolu- 
tion' is contrasted with the aristocratic or oligarchic character of the 
British Parliamentary system; 'aristocracy requires no chief, while it 
is in the nature of democracy to personify itself in one man'. And the 
Second Empire in its depreciation of les anciens partis., its strictures 
on 'sectional interests', and its bombast about the integration of all 
truly national interests and 'the organization of modern society', is 
a forerunner of the single-party totalitarianisms. 

But such animadversions on Parliament call for no rebuttal. 
Oligarchy is of the essence of Parliament which requires an articu- 
lated society for basis. Elections presuppose superiorities; these may 
be based on birth, wealth, education, service, personal standing; or 
the rise may be achieved through local bodies, party organizations, 
trade unions, etc. But acknowledged superiorities there must be: and 
these were much impaired in the France of 1848. Three years later 
their absence was adduced in justification of the coup d'Stat; Louis- 
Napoleon, in a pamphlet 'La Revision de la Constitution', which he 
sent to the British Ambassador, Lord Normanby, naming himself as 
its author, denounced Parliamentary Government as 'totally unfit for 
a country like France, without aristocracy, without bodies politic, in 
short without any local sources of influence or power except the 
creatures and instruments of the Central Executive'. 

With such 'official candidates' he himself managed in time to 
pack his Assemblies. But in May 1649 t ' ie electorate, which had 
given him an overwhelming majority half a year earlier, returned an 
Assembly consisting of some 300 Orleanists, 160 Legitimists, 160 
Republicans, and a mere handful of Bonapartists; 'partisan elections, 
worse confounded by local influences and local issues,' writes Gu6r- 
ard, 'were but a shattered mirror, and could not reflect the country 
as a whole.' Obviously millions of men, politically unschooled, will 
in a free election put their mark against the name they happen to 
know. Of the five names in the Presidential election 'Napoleon' 



60 VANISHED SUPREMACIES 

alone had nation-wide currency; in Parliamentary elections a similar 
advantage accrued to the local notables. Louis-Napoleon's person 
mattered little, his pamphlets even less, and of his program only as 
much as could be read into his name, a greater engine of propaganda 
than even the modem Press and the wireless. Through the freak of a 
plebiscite the ghost of Napoleon entered the body politic of a sick, 
deeply divided community: the peasants were hostile to the big 
landowners and their exiled kings, and had no use for the urban 
bourgeois and intelligentsia; the Legitimists loathed the Orleanists; 
and everybody abhorred and feared the 'Reds', so much so that even 
of those who knew Louis-Napoleon in the flesh and despised him 
the politicians many supported him. They thought that because he 
wgfl |ptdjprtii j ally_their inferior, they would be able to runjMBLor get 
rid of him ; the German ConservajJA^^ 
generals, Nationalists thought the same ab<m^Hitler. 'The elect of 
six millions executes, and does not betray, the will of the people,' 
declared Louis-Napoleon, nicely rounding off the figure. But too 
much should not be read by historians into that verdict. 

'The workmen of the great cities', writes Guerard, e . . . refused to 
recognize the Empire as a genuine form of democracy.' Their 
strength and spirit were broken in the June Days of 1848, long 
before Louis-Napoleon appeared as the 'saviour of society' (Cavaig- 
nac was his Noske). But exploiting the feeble riots of June 1849, 
engaged in par acquit de conscience, Louis-Napoleon proclaimed: 
'It is time that the good be reassured, and that the wicked should 
tremble.' And after the coup d'Etat his shady associates staged their 
own Reichstag Fire. There had been hardly any opposition, the 
workers refusing to fight; but as some kind of insurrection was re- 
quired to justify the coup and extensive repressions, resistance was 
encouraged and beaten down. Next, an accidental shot on the 
boulevards provoked a fusillade; the ground was strewn with dead. 
'These were not insurgents,' writes Guerard; 'it was a quiet, well- 
dressed crowd, which was watching the military parade as a show.' 
And the sequel? 'Mixed commissions', often of an atrocious char- 
acter, condemned thousands of innocent men to death, transporta- 
tion, or exile. Where was then, one may ask, Louis-Napoleon's 
renowned kindliness? He had written in his Icttes NapoUoniennes: 
'The Imperial eagle . . . was never stained with French blood shed 
by French troops. Few governments can say as much about their 
flag ! ' Not he about his own any longer. 

The plebiscitarian Caesar 'had not grown up with the French 
aristocracy, the French court, the French army, the French people,' 



THE FIRST MOUNTEBANK DICTATOR 6l 

writes Guerard. 'He remained on the throne an enigma, an adven- 
turer, an exile.' And like Napoleon I, he 'was saddled with the 
Bonapartes'. One of them, Pierre son of Lucien, was e a fit subject 
for a picaresque romance'. But Louis-Napoleon himself and his 
favourite cousin, Napoleon, e in their exalted sphere had in them 
something of the Pierre Bonaparte element: they too are disquieting, 
they elude normal classification ; they are both Caesars and declasses* ; 
while Morny, an illegitimate son of Napoleon Ill's mother, and 
Walewski, a bastard of Napoleon I, both leading Ministers of the 
Second Empire, were 'the perfect models of aristocratic adventurers*. 
Morny was a man of affairs -promoter, speculator, and profiteer 
par excellence -'his secret information and his great influence as a 
statesman were freely used to foster his private schemes'. And he was 
not the only one of that type in the doubtful equipe of the Second 
Empire, which, says Guerard, 'was free from bourgeois pettiness, 
but also lacked some of the bourgeois virtues'. The view that it was 
not a regime but a racket is not altogether unfounded. 

The gaudy Empire 'on its glittering surface . . . was a military 
regime'; 'the great reviews . . . were an essential part of its political 
strategy' ; 'the days of bourgeois drabness were over' ; gold braid and 
epaulets, much martial display, conspicuous waste and maladmin- 
istration. 'War was made into a blend of the circus, the tournament, 
and the quest. There was a dash of gaiety about it all ... the spirit 
of Cyrano and d'Artagnan.' Louis-Napoleon 'believed in the army, 
but not in war. ... He believed implicitly that he was born a soldier 
... it was faith without works.' His technical knowledge did not pre- 
vent him from fumbling even in peace-time manoeuvres. 'At 
Magenta ... he was sluggish, almost paralysed. When Frossard came 
with the news: "Sire, a glorious victory!" the queer "victor" could 
hardly credit his luck: "And I was going to order a retreat!'" 'The 
Empire ... in its warlike aspect was an imitation, and feeble at the 
core.' Napoleon III 'was unmilitary in his ineradicable gentleness. 
... A philanthropist at the head of any army is a pathetic absurdity.* 

A 'philanthropist' and a 'policeman': for the army at home was 
'a vast police force in reserve', 'held in readiness against any possible 
uprising of the democratic great cities 3 . 'Napoleon III the Police- 
man was not in contradiction with Napoleon III the Socialist'; 
'racketeer, policeman, reformer . . . were mingled in that equivocal 
figure'. In the social reformer, 'the romanticist whose dreams were 
of the future . . . and translated themselves into terms of engineer- 
ing', who realized that 'modern industry is collectivistic' and 
through the Imperial power wanted to give it a collective sense, 



62 VANISHED SUPREMACIES 

Guerard tries to find atonement for Napoleon Ill's failure in all 
other spheres. Still, the eloge is hardly convincing; Napoleon III 
talked the humanitarian jargon of his generation and shared its 
mechanic interests and hobbies, but no convincing evidence is 
adduced of original ideas or personal achievements. And, intermixed 
with vast unproven claims, appears the admission that his economic 
and social policies 'are no less perplexing than his management of 
foreign affairs' which is saying a great deal. 

For Napoleon Ill's foreign policy was shallow and utterly con- 
fused. He believed in peace and was out to tear up the Treaty of 
Vienna; he believed in nationality and claimed for France her 
'natural frontiers'; he wanted Italy free but not united; in eighteen 
years he waged three major European wars and sent three expedi- 
tions overseas, without ever seeming to know what he was after. At 
first luck covered up, to some extent, his muddles and blunders. But 
after 1860 c the series of setbacks, wrong guesses, false moves on the 
part of the Government was unbroken' Poland, Denmark, 
Sadowa, Queretaro, Mentana; the Emperor and his people were 
losing faith in his star. There was perplexity, aimless drift, and ob- 
scure dismay. By 1867 French hegemony was at an end; France felt 
intolerably humiliated, the Emperor was infinitely weary. C L' Empire 
a ete une infatuation,' writes La Gorce, c il a ete 1'incoher^nce, il a 
etc aussi . . . 1'imprevoyance.* 

But here is a last attempt at justification: 'Everywhere', writes 
Guerard, 'in Paris, in provincial France, in Algeria, the true monu- 
ments of the Second Empire are its public works.' (Faust, who sold 
his soul for power, concludes his life over public works.) 'The trans- 
formation of Paris, his personal conception . . . was so nobly con- 
ceived that after half a century it was still adequate.' The pulling 
down and rebuilding of capitals is again a recurrent feature in the 
history of despots and dictators, from Nero to Mussolini and Hitler. 
Self-expression, self-glorification, and self -commemoration are one 
motive. But there is also a deeper, unconscious urge, born of fear: 
of things lurking in the dark, narrow streets of old cities, the product 
of organic, uncontrolled growth. Let in light and air and suffer 
nothing which is not of the despot's will and making! With Napo- 
leon III such fears found a conscious rationalization: open spaces 
were needed for a { whiff of grapeshot'. When his empire fell not one 
shot was fired. 

The careers of Napoleon III and Hitler have shown how far even 
a bare minimum of ideas and resources, when backed by a nation's 
reminiscences or passions, can carry a man in the political desert of 



TH-E FIRST MOUNTEBANK DICTATOR 63 

* direct democracy'; and the books written about Napoleon III 
show how loath posterity is to accept the stark truth about such a 
man. And yet a careful examination of the evidence merely confirms 
the opinion of leading contemporaries about him: the enigma was 
not so much in him as in the disparity between his own spiritual 
stature and the weight of the ideas centred on him. Dream pictures 
are best projected on to a blank screen which, however, neither 
fixes nor brings them to life. 

How much can be safely said of Napoleon III? Biographers agree 
that there was something in him which defies definition and descrip- 
tion: obviously the unstable, the shapeless, the void cannot be 
delineated. He was reticent, secretive, conspiratorial; at times his 
power of silence created the appearances of strength. Narrow and 
rigid in his ideas, out of touch with reality, he was a dreamer enter- 
taining vast, nebulous schemes, but vacillating, confused, and there- 
fore complex and ineffective in action. There was in him a streak of 
vulgarity. He was sensual, dissolute, undiscriminating in his love- 
affairs: his escapades were a form of escapism, a release. He was 
benign, sensitive, impressionable, suggestible, yet 'gently obstinate*. 
He talked high and vague idealism, uncorrelated to his actions. He 
had a fixed, superstitious, childish belief in his name and star. Risen 
to power, this immature weak man became a public danger. His 
silence was self-defence: to cover up his inadequacy and to preserve 
him from the impact of stronger personalities, of demands which he 
would have found difficult to resist, of arguments to which he had 
no reply; it also helped him to avoid commitments. Ampere des- 
cribes him as 'what is called a good-natured man 5 in that c he likes 
to please everyone he sees'. Tocqueville, for a few months his For- 
eign Minister, and Beaumont, an ambassador, were aghast at his 
vast chimerical, unscrupulous, confused schemes and ideas; when 
argued with he would keep silent without giving in -'he abandoned 
nothing'. He would bide his time which with him meant inactive 
waiting without any approach to reality. He tumbled into situations, 
neither designed nor deliberately created by him. When forced to 
act, the day-dreamer would try to draw back: so it was before the 
coup d'Etat, and again in 1859 in fact in almost every crisis. But 
if the initiative had passed out of his hands he would drift anxiety- 
ridden, fumbling, wishing to call a halt, and mostly unable to do 
so. Under stress his personality seemed to disintegrate. 

With all the pretence to destiny, he was personally modest, for he 
himself was anonymous under his great name. La Gorce wrote about 
him in 1933: 



64 VANISHED SUPREMACIES 

He advanced towards greatness with a blind assurance which 
resembled both the dreams of a somnambulist and the mysticism of 
the predestined. And this prodigious infatuation offended less than 
one might have expected,, for so much did this heir of the Bonapartes 
efface himself in order to derive everything from the rays of his 
name! 

'Quand on porte notre nom* is a recurrent phrase in his letters to 
Prince Napoleon; but in one, written some time in 1848, he thus 
expostulates with his cousin: 

. . . you have sense and tact, and you ought to realize that it is hardly 
suitable for you to sign yourself publicly Napoleon Bonaparte, with- 
out any other Christian name, for you sign yourself like the Emperor, 
with nothing to distinguish you. And no one seeing your signature 
knows who it is. I always have myself called Louis-Napoleon, to dis- 
tinguish me from my relatives. I wish I could call myself Louis- 
Napoleon Nabuchodonosor Bonaparte in order better to mark my 
identity [afin d 3 avoir une personification bien marquee]. . . . To sign 
Napoleon Bonaparte looks unspeakably pretentious that's all, . . . 

Two things emerge clearly: Louis-Napoleon's annoyance at his 
cousin's identifying himself with the Emperor, and the consciousness 
of himself being in danger of losing his own identity in such an 
identification. And indeed as Emperor he was like an actor surren- 
dering his own personality. He became a screen for memories and 
dreams, with the caption: Napoleon. 



VIII 

UNE AMITIE AMOUREUSE 



FRANCIS JOSEPH AND FRAU SCHRATT 

PRINCE BULOW wrote in his Memoirs., 1897-1903: 

Francis Joseph was human only in his relationship with Frau 
Katharina Schratt I will add at once that the relationship was purely 
one of friendship. Frau Schratt was not merely a talented actress; she 
was also an amiable and agreeable woman, sprightly, gracious, and 
above all natural as Viennese women are. She kept aloof from politics 
completely, a fact which did not keep the industrious envoys of the 
smaller Powers from paying zealous court to her and with grave 
importance reporting her harmless chatter to Dresden and Munich. 
Frau Schratt stood in completely good relations with the Empress 
Elizabeth who was genuinely glad that her exalted spouse found, in 
conversation with Katharina, the relaxation and compensation for 
the checks to his policy and the terrible ordeals which he had to 
undergo in his private family life. In his letters to her, Francis Joseph 
always addressed Frau Schratt ceremoniously. In her drawing-room 
hung a large picture of the Empress Elizabeth who had sent it to this 
friend of the Emperor's. 

But Biilow's account, which deals even with the style of the 
Emperor's letters to Frau Schratt, seems to suggest that 'the indus- 
trious envoys of the smaller [German] Poweis' were not alone in 
cultivating her acquaintance. And indeed, Francis Joseph wrote to 
her from Cap Martin, on 5 March 1896:* 

My dear, good Friend, 

... I received your dear letter just as I was starting with the 
Empress for Mentone, to lunch at the Perimont Rumpelmeier, and so 
could not read the second half till in the pastry-shop, and when I 
communicated its contents to the Empress, who sends you her most 
cordial greetings, she immediately remarked that Count Eulenburg 
1 Briefe Kaiser Franz Josephs an Frau Katharina Schratt, ed. Jean de Bourgoing. 

65 



66 VANISHED SUPREMACIES 

[German Ambassador in Vienna] will prove dangerous to me. As you 
know, I have long feared it, for the Ambassador is very amiable, and 
much cleverer and more amusing than I 3 and will soon have ousted 
me from your heart. Thus I am constantly beset by grievous thoughts, 
and it is indeed high time for you to reassure me by giving me a 
chance to look into your dear clear eyes. . . . 

And four days later: c That Count Eulenburg should have seen you 
three times is too much for my taste.' Count (subsequently Prince) 
Eulenburg himself admits in his diary that at times he 

communicated with the Emperor through Frau Kathi in short 
questions and answers: whether this or that would be pleasing, or 
displeasing, to him. 

The Emperor's letter of 5 March to Frau Schratt contains this 
further remark: 

Your views on the line to take about the Vienna [communal] 
elections pleased me very much as fresh evidence of your clear and 
sound political judgment. 

Thus even at that time politics were not absent from their talks and 
correspondence; and with the passing years they fill more and more 
space in the Emperor's letters. 

Fragments of a Political Diary of Joseph M. Baernreither, a 
Minister in Count Thun's Cabinet, 1898-9, is one of the few pub- 
lished memoirs of Austrian statesmen or politicians; he writes on 
5 February 1913: 

Marchet [another ex-Minister] telephoned me today that he had 
told Frau Schratt about the warlike plans of the military party and 
she had said to him that she would speak to the Emperor about it 
at 5 o'clock today. 

And on 8 November 1913, while the Emperor was in search of a 
new Prime Minister, Baernreither wrote: 

Frau Schratt proposed to the Emperor Baron Beck and myself. 
About the former, the Emperor's tone was not at all sympathetic* Of 
me, he remarked that I was a very intelligent man, and had many 
friends, but also many enemies. 

'Frau Kathi' was not so completely a-political after all. 

The first meeting between her and the Emperor occurred appar- 
ently on 20 May 1886, in the studio of the painter von Angeli and in 
the presence of the Empress Elizabeth, who had commissioned Mm 
to paint for the Emperor a portrait of Frau Schratt a singular 



UNE AMITIE AMOUREUSE 67 

opening to a strange relationship. He was fifty-five, and she thirty- 
two; and their friendship continued for thirty years, till his death. 
The published correspondence consists of some 560 letters from him, 
which cover about 400 pages, though only very few are printed in 
full. But none from her appears in the book, except one, of February 
1895, found in draft among her papers; yet they are essential to a 
full appreciation even of his part in the correspondence and friend- 
ship. Have they perished? The Emperor kept and treasured, num- 
bered and counted them. By 15 January 1888 he had forty, and 
hoped that they would 'grow into a voluminous library of letters'. 
'I employ my leisure in rereading your entire correspondence from 
the beginning, 5 he wrote on 28 January. By November 1888 he had 
one hundred, and still addressed her as Meine Hebe gnddige Frau; 
but at last she changes into Meine Hebe Freundin (and a few years 
later small crosses begin to appear at the end of his letters). On 
10 June 1890 he announces receipt of her aooth letter. 'Your letters 
are my greatest joy,' he wrote on 9 May 1888. I await them always 
with longing and impatience, and always read them several times.' 
His own are worth reading for their cumulative effect, though 
except one or two, none, deserves being reread. 'You might ask why 
I write again, and I could really give no sufficient answer' (19 May 
1887). 'I close this letter as I have nothing sensible (nichts Ges- 
cheidtes) left to say, and in fact what I have written is not very 
sensible either' (5 July 1888). He praises her letters for being 'so 
pretty and delightful', and apologizes for the 'deficient form' of his 
own (5 October 1888) 'I have no time to correct them', he ex- 
plains on one occasion, and on another puts pardon against a blot. 
'And now rny paper has come to an end, and also my anyhow not 
very profound thoughts' (10 October 1889). 'I am constantly 
amazed at my ability to produce such long and empty letters, and 
apologize for their lack of contents' (10 November 1889). A correct 
appreciation but what unfeigned modesty in one who had been 
Emperor for more than forty years. 

Lonely, never sure of himself, and very seldom satisfied with his 
own performance, he worked exceedingly hard from a compelling 
sense of duty, but without deriving real satisfaction from his work. 
Shy, sensitive, and vulnerable, and apprehensive that he might cut a 
poor or ridiculous figure, he took refuge in a still and lifeless formal- 
ism, which made him appear wooden, and in a spiritual isolation, 
which made him seem unfeeling or even callous. Never in all these 
letters is there the least trace of pride in the part he had to fill, and 
hardly ever any sign of pleasure in it, except when he thought he 



68 VANISHED SUPREMACIES 

met with genuine attachment from his people: human warmth and 
sympathy touched him deeply, and he seemed in need of them. But 
human contacts were difficult for him; and he disliked social gather- 
ings and shunned 'clever conversation'. He could not, and would 
not, 'improvise 5 : everything had to be fixed beforehand, and no 
freedom was given to thought or to impulses. This was not the rigid 
'Spanish etiquette', as 'which it is sometimes described, but the self- 
imposed slavery of one painfully aware of his own insufficiency: and 
the heavy burden of the task, to which he felt unequal, he had to 
carry for sixty-eight years. But the things eliminated from his own 
life attracted him: frivolous gaiety, carefree enjoyment, sensuality, 
volatile moods, especially if rendered innocent by a basic decency. 
He found an unwonted release in his relationship with Kathi 
Schratt: and his deeper self tender, immature, frustrated, and 
impoverished by lifelong imprisonment appears in these letters. 

How he loathed the publicity which attached to his every word 
and movement! At parliamentary dinners or public receptions he 
had to be amiable and talk 'with sparkling intelligence* (und 
geistreicth sprechen soil man auch mit den Leuteri), for 'all the 
twaddle I talk appears in the Press'. His one wish on such occasions 
was to escape aussi mocht i, is his stereotyped phrase in Vienna 
dialect. Even more trying were the visits of brother-sovereigns. In 
October 1888 he had to entertain the speechifying William II: 'My 
toast at yesterday's dinner, which I dreaded terribly, I managed to 
deliver without getting stuck, and yet without a prompter. . , .* 
Similarly, when 'ordered' to give the toast at a family wedding 'I 
did it very briefly and, thank God, without coming a cropper' (5 
July 1892). However pleasant his 'exalted guests' may have been, 
he felt ill at easegemiltlich ist die Sache dock nicht. But the visit 
of the King of Serbia, in October 1894, was excruciating 'he con- 
tinually asks questions and repeats the same thing ten times over*. 
(For once Francis Joseph did not realize that he was portraying him- 
self though on innumerable occasions he avows that asking. tire- 
some questions was his own 'bad habit', for which he was 'con- 
stantly pulled up by the Empress'. 'Again a question,' he wrote on 
5 March 1893. 'The Empress says that it may be an honour to be 
my lady-friend, but that it is assommant. . . .') Most of all he disliked 
the visits of women with a claim to intellectual distinction. 'I shall 
have to pull myself together; and appear highly intelligent and edu- 
cated.' The wife of Charles I of Rumania was an authoress writing 
under the name of 'Carmen Silva', and she managed to inflict one 
of her plays on the Vienna Court Theatre: what Francis Joseph 



UNE AMITIE AMOUREUSE 69 

dreaded most was that she might come to its production. Her high- 
falutin exhibitionism grated upon him; he writes a few years later 
from Budapest (i October 1897): 

The Rumanian visit passed off well and according to program, 
but was very exhausting. Carmen Silva, who was most amiable and 
very friendly, got on my nerves with her ecstatic delight at the truly 
excellent reception with which they met here. I naturally grew colder 
and colder, and almost uncivil. . . . 

He squirmed at any display of feelings what would he not have 
endured had he known that the story of the amitie amoureuse of his 
old age would one day be exhibited in print? 

Frau Schratt, an actress of the Court Theatre subsidized from the 
Emperor's Civil List, tried even early in their acquaintance to gain 
his support in an argument with its director. The Emperor wrote 
to her in January 1 886 : 

I had meant ... to speak about your business, but did not dare, 
since so far I have never meddled with the repertory or the casting 
of parts, as I consider that the theatre is for the public and not for 
me, and besides I do not trust my judgment in these matters. More- 
over, I feared that my interference might place you in a false posi- 
tion, and do harm rather than good. But to please you I shall state 
your wishes at the next opportunity. . . . 

A few weeks later Frau Schratt fainted in church in the Emperor's 
presence, and the next day he wrote to apologize for not having 
stayed after she had regained consciousness: C I wanted to avoid a 
sensation.' In the same letter he reproached himself with not having 
had the courage to speak to her at a ball but he was watched from 
all sides 'through, or without, opera glasses, and the Press hyenas 
were about who get hold of every word I say. Well, I did not dare.' 
And on 21 April 1887: 

Forgive my having troubled you with my views about our friend- 
ship and the chatter of our dear fellow-men. I felt a real need to 
speak frankly to you about it. ... Your honour and reputation are 
sacred to me above all, and I wanted to tell you how I endeavour to 
make our friendship, in which I see nothing wrong, appear in a 
proper light before the world, and wanted to hear what you think 
of my failure to do so. What you said the other day, and wrote yes- 
terday, reassures me, and is new proof of your goodness and indul- 
gence toward me. 

30 May 1887: 'the three weeks since I saw you, seem to me an 
eternity.' 29 November: 'I would be happy to see you again, but of 



7O VANISHED SUPREMACIES 

course only if it pleases you, if you feel well, and can spare the time.' 
6 January 1888: he saw her cross the square in front of the Imperial 
Palace without her seeing him, 'but to my joy you looked up several 
times, to my window'. 20 January: C I could shout with joy at the 
idea that tomorrow I shall probably meet you again.' And next 
came a clarifying talk, followed by two letters. 14 February 1888: 

This morning I was overjoyed to receive your dear, good, long 
letter of the i2th. . . . The enclosed 'Letter of Meditations' made me 
immeasurably happy, and if I did not know that you always tell me 
the truth, I could hardly believe it, especially when I see in the 
mirror rny wrinkled old face. . . . 

That I adore you, you must know or at least guess, and in me that 
feeling grows steadily. . . . 

So now it is out, and it may be as well, for out it had to come. 

But that's enough, and our relation must remain the same as till 
now, if it is to last, and last it should, for it makes me so happy. You 
say that you will hold yourself in hand, and I shall do the same on 
my part, even if it is not easy, for I don't want to do anything that is 
wrong. I love my wife, and do not want to abuse her confidence and 
her friendship for you. . . . 

And on 18 February: 

. . . you again have scruples and a panicky fear that I shall think 
you a seductress and be angry with you. The latter is impossible, and 
as for the first, you are indeed so beautiful and lovable and good that 
you could be dangerous to me, but I shall remain firm, and since I 
have your * Letter of Meditations' I am happy and reassured. Clarity 
is best, and even if it is perhaps not altogether proper, still it is better 
so, and it saves me now from rny stupid jealousy, which often 
plagued me. 

... It has been snowing all day, and the mood is melancholy; but 
how jolly all this snow would be if we were walking in Schonbrimn, 
and if the slope above the Tyrolese Garden is again slippery, I might 
perhaps be allowed to take your arm ! 

A most satisfactory existence a trois ensued: the Empress publicly 
avowed friendship for Frau Schratt, while the Emperor revelled in 
the calf-love of a mid-nineteenth-century adolescent. 20 May 1888: 
'Tuesday afternoon I had luck. Thinking that this was about the 
time for you to drive to the theatre, I kept careful watch' and he 
saw her pass in her carriage: I then laughed with joy over your 
friendly greeting.' 24 May: 'The last two days were lucky for me, 
because ... at last I saw you again from a distance, and I am most 
grateful to you for having rendered this possible by clever manceuv- 



XJNE AMITIE AMOUREUSE 



ring. . . .' The moment he caught sight of her grey hat or her red 
umbrella in the square in front of the palace he would try quickly 
to get rid of whoever was with him and rush to the window to greet 
her. 'I remain in longing (Sehnsuchf), attachment, and most 
devoted love, yours. . . .' 

Then, in January 1889, the Mayerling tragedy broke upon them: 
the suicide of his only son, the Archduke Rudolph, together with 
Baronesse Mary Vetsera. Frau Schratt drew even nearer to the 
Imperial couple. 12 February 1889: 

I often think of you with deep love and gratitude, and we often 
talk of you. The Empress was glad to hear that you propose to come 
in the spring to Hietzing, because, she says, you will be nearer to us. 
I again thank you with all my heart for your intention to go to 
Lourdes. Pray there above all for our poor, dear Rudolph, the best 
of sons, and pray to the Mother of God, our Lady of Dolours, for the 
poor mother whom Heaven has visited with the greatest imaginable 
pain. 

1 6 February 1889: 'Outwardly the Empress is quiet and only con- 
cerned for my health and distraction, but I can see she is filled with 
deep, silent pain. A great, rare woman!' 28 February: The sad 
mood continues. . . .1 begin to worry about the Empress. She daily 
grows more sad and silent ____ * The Empress had been ordered to go 
to Wiesbaden for a cure, but, wrote the Emperor on 12 March, 
'stubbornly refuses to leave me before you are back in Vienna'. On 
the 1 6th, having transmitted theatre news to Frau Schratt (a fre- 
quent subject in their correspondence), he remarks: 'You see that I 
again take some interest in gossip ---- ' Next he went to Budapest for 
c the manufacturing of new Ministers'; and in April to Ischl, to 
recuperate and 'shoot capercailzie*. 

So I drift back into my old habits and resume the old life, though 
things can never be the same. 

She had her difficulties in the theatre, and he with his Ministers 
and Parliaments. The Hungarian crises loom large in his correspon- 
dence: a genuinely Parliamentary system rendered them more^diffi- 
cult to settle than in Austria, where Parliament, paralysed by inter- 
racial divisions, left the Emperor free to make his own choice; more- 
over, while in Budapest he had to communicate with her by letter. 
'It would of course be splendid', he wrote on 13 February 1890, e if 
you could come here, but how to find a plausible excuse, and our 
dear fellow-men would say that you have followed me, and probably 
invent some additional stories/ And another time about Press re- 



72 VANISHED SUPREMACIES 

porters: 'These reptiles are even worse here than in Vienna. 3 Frau 
Schratt did not share the Emperor's dislike of publicity and 
occasionally caused him worry by indiscretions. Thus she went up 
in a balloon with Alexander Baltazzi, a relation of Baronesse Mary 
Vetsera. The Emperor wrote on 7 June 1890: 

I cannot get over your flight. It is the first time ... I could be 
angry with you, but as this cannot be, I am merely aggrieved (not 
offended). That flying is very rash, I told you before, and even the 
Empress, who fears nothing, thought it dangerous and wrong. More- 
over, I immediately apprehended that the newspapers would not 
keep silent. 

Here followed a selection from the Press. 

I know you too well to doubt that for you this was merely an 
amusement to satisfy your curiosity, but the papers . . . make it look 
like self-advertising and a bid for renown in an alien field, which fits 
neither your style nor your natural simplicity, for which I have the 
greatest regard. ... I have never objected to your social relations 
with Alexander Baltazzi ... on the contrary, I was grateful, for it 
enabled me in a difficult period to learn through you things which 
were of importance to me. That you should have undertaken the 
flight under his auspices is truly indifferent to me, but in the eyes of 
a wicked world this fact, picked out by the Press, will harm you. . . . 
If you should ever again think of such a silly prank, please let me 
know beforehand. 

He was much relieved at her mild reception of what he later 
described as his 'wicked letter and bold remarks 5 . 

Even ordinary forms of active sport worried the timid Emperor. 
The yacht of the Empress, he wrote on 5 September 1890, 'is 
already at Bordeaux, and so restarts the sea-voyaging, but for me 
constant anxiety and worry. . . / When she reached Oporto he was 
relieved. When she left Algiers in a rough sea: C I shall have no peace 
till I learn that she has arrived safely.' And hearing of some boating 
accident: 'It is terrible, and further proof of how careful one should 
be on the water.' 

Frau Schratt 's mountaineering, however mild, filled him with 
similar dread. 'No more glacier expeditions,' he begged. And next 
bicycles were invented: Frau Schratt and one of his daughters 
started cycling. 'A real epidemic!' he groaned. 'Naturally I worry 
constantly because of your cycling and other dangerous pursuits.' A 
few years later spiritualism and hypnotism became the fashion. 'This 
can only harm you and affect your nerves still more.' By 1907 there 



UNE AMITIE AMOUREUSE 73 

v/ere motor-cars. 'I am less pleased with your having hired a car,' 
wrote the Emperor on 18 March, 'this causes me constant anxiety.' 
7 April: "That you should have met with a motor accident is disturb- 
ing, but was to be expected. . . .' 

There was another side to mountaineering and cycling: slimming 
had become the craze among women. 'Don't forget to report 
whether cycling has de-fattened our friend (die Freundiri)* wrote 
the Empress. Baths, waters, gymnastics, massage, patent medicines, 
glandular extracts, milk and fruit cures, diets, fasting everything 
was tried by the two women: and detailed information was ex- 
changed through the Emperor. There was daily weighing: 'I con- 
sider the weighing-machine nonsense and a misfortune.' Or again: 
C I reported to the Empress that your weight has remained the same, 
whereupon she immediately inquired whether you were taking cer- 
tain dangerous medicines, which unfortunately I had to confirm. . . .' 
Another time he begged Frau Schratt not to talk too much to the 
Empress about health, 'and above all not to recommend any new 
cure or remedies'. 

On the other hand, a wellnigh comic importance was attached 
to eating. Thus with an invitation to tea: 'The Empress . . . asks you 
not to have too much for lunch, so that you should have a good 
appetite at five. Like all Hausfrauen, she has a passion for stuffing 
her guests as much as possible.' (On another occasion Frau Schratt is 
told beforehand that the afternoon tea will consist of cold meat and 
chocolate ice!) And when the Imperial couple went to Territet (his 
letters sound as if he had never been abroad, at least not outside 
courts), there were continuous reports on the quality of food and the 
dishes consumed. 12 March 1894, from Cap Martin: 

We are well, although we try all kinds of restaurants, and really 
eat far too much and too varied a fare. . . . The main purpose of life 
here is after all only in eating. With this sparkling remark I conclude 
my letter. 

Altogether his accounts are of an engaging naivety. This from 
Cap Martin, in March 1896, cet. 65, in the forty-seventh year of his 
reign: 

The interview with President Faure passed off very well. . . . When 
I visited him in the morning at Mentone, rows of Chasseurs des 
Alpes stood from the Cap to the Hotel de Ville at Mentone, and 
cuirassiers paraded in front of it. ... When he came to return my 
visit, he was escorted by a squadron of the cuirassiers who paraded 
in front of the hotel. The trumpeters blew their trumpets. It was 
magnificent. ... At 7 I went with my three companions to the Hotel 



74 VANISHED SUPREMACIES 

de Paris, where we had an excellent dinner, as per enclosed menu, 

much better than at Noel's or Patard's. 

On 10 September 1898 the Empress Elizabeth was murdered by 
an anarchist at Geneva, n September: '. . . with whom can I talk 
better about the noble dead (die Verkldrte) than with you.' 16 
October: C I feel best in your company, for I can talk so well with 
you about the unforgettable one, whom we both loved so much, and 
because I love you.' He needed Frau Schratt more than ever. But 
soon shadows fell on their friendship. On the fiftieth anniversary of 
the Emperor's accession, 2 December 1898, an 'Elizabeth Order' 
was to be founded, and the Empress had promised it to Frau Schratt, 
who failed to understand that the Emperor could not now fulfil that 
promise without causing a painful sensation. Archduchess Valerie, 
because of a promise given to her mother, invited Frau Schratt to 
her country house, but the Emperor, who knew the real feelings of 
his daughter and her husband, advised Frau Schratt to decline the 
invitation which she resented. Lastly, over some differences with 
the director of the Court Theatre, she sent in her resignation; and 
the Emperor allowed it to be accepted. She would now absent her- 
self from Vienna, in bad health and worse humour, and make the 
Emperor pay for having displeased her. Undoubtedly he must often 
have been very trying even assommant. He was an old dear but a 
bore. He was exacting in a naive way he would, for instance, rise 
at 4 a.m. to get through his work, and then think nothing of asking 
Frau Schratt to receive him between 7 and 7.30 a.m. In Austria, on 
all levels, matters were settled by Protektionbut the Emperor, even 
if appealed to by Frau Schratt, would strive to decide them in 
accordance with justice. When the director of his own Court Theatre 
was allowed to flout her wishes, how much prestige could attach to 
being the Emperor's friend? Besides, their relationship, notwith- 
standing its innocence, appeared equivocal; and the Emperor was 
visibly embarrassed by what people might think of it: indeed, but 
for the encouragement and sanction given to their friendship by the 
Empress, he would never have dared to enter upon or to proceed 
with it. His attitude must have irritated Frau Schratt, free and easy 
in outlook and manner. And yet it is difficult to justify the callous 
and whimsical ill-humour with which she treated the poor old man 
when he needed her most. 

He wrote on 17 January 1899: 

I have just received your note which distresses me all the more as 
I fear that it is I who have caused your nervous depression, and yet 
my intentions toward you are so good, and I love you more than I 



UNE AMITIE AMOUREUSE 75 

can say. But I hope that you will soon regain equanimity and I shall 
be permitted to see you, for the hour which I spend with you is the 
only relief and comfort I get in my sadness and worries. With a 
heartfelt prayer to love me still a little bit and not to be so very angry 
with me, 

I remain, in faithful devotion, 

Yours, 

FRANCIS JOSEPH 

But her bad mood continued, and throughout 1899 meetings seem 
to have been comparatively rare. 14 November 1899: 'Your nerves 
must be in a truly bad condition if it took you so long to make up 
your mind to open my last letter. Did you expect something so awful 
in it?' On 27 December he asks her, if she feels 'a little more friendly 
and kindly' toward him, to send round her servant with a message 
about her health. Early in March 1900 his refusal to intervene in her 
conflict with the director of the Court Theatre seems to have pro- 
duced a painful scene between them Frau Schratt 'passionately 
and obstinately' rejected the Emperor's arguments and suggestions, 
and left him in an 'abrupt and deeply hurting manner'. He appealed 
to her once more: 

Think of the long years of our unclouded friendship, of the joys 
and pain which we shared unfortunately more pain, which you 
helped me to bear think of the beloved, unforgettable one whom 
we both loved and who is like a guardian angel above us, and then I 
hope you will incline toward reconciliation. . . . May God protect 
you, and turn your heart to mercy and reconciliation. . . . 

Another year went by: highly strung, she travelled about Europe, 
planning more distant journeys perhaps unconsciously imitating 
the late Empress. She had even 'the awful intention of going to 
Egypt', but first meant to corne to Vienna. Overjoyed, the Emperor 
wrote on 9 December 1900: 

... if only it was possible to keep you here and put an end to your 
nomadic life, if only a way could be found to meet your unfortun- 
ately undeclared wishes, and to quieten you. . . . Your journey to 
Egypt you must drop in any case, and think a little of me, of my 
sorrows and anxiety, were you to go so far and was I to be without 
news from you. 

After a separation of five months, he merely hoped that he would 
not irritate and annoy her again. But apparently they did not meet, 
and when in March she was once more in Vienna, he wondered 
whether he would be permitted to see her or even to write to her in 



76 VANISHED SUPREMACIES 

future. And when in a letter of 5 April she asked 'why had it all to 
happen in that way', he replied that it was rather for him to ask 
that question, 'for you yourself had wanted things to happen as they 
did 5 . At last, in June 1901, he saw her 'dear, though not friendly 
face'; and once more he appealed to the love which they had both 
borne to 'our dear dead one' 'the last tie between us'. There was 
some improvement that summer; but she continued her travels, 
going even to the Canaries. He wrote before her return, on 1 2 May 
1902: 'I am sad and tired, and you will find me much aged and 
enfeebled in mind.' He was not quite seventy-two, and had still 
fourteen years to live and rule. Yet he was old and weary. Their 
relations now resumed a more steady character. But the once fre- 
quent and chatty letter seem to have become fewer and shorter. 
Perhaps what had once been a passionate longing was now a settled 
habit. 



IX 

MEN WHO FLOUNDERED 
INTO THE WAR 



I. PRINCE VON BULOW 



THE German editor of Prince Billow's Memoirs 1 writes in his 
preface: 

Prince Biilow devoted five years to dictating his Memoirs, and 
three further years to the careful, laborious revision of the text. . . . 
There was not a name, not a date, not a quotation, that was not 
verified repeatedly by the use of reference books. There was not a 
sentence that was not carefully weighed and pondered again and 
again. The growth of the work was considerably facilitated by the 
Prince's unusually powerful memory ... a memory that hoarded not 
only historical persons and events, but significant quotations. ... Of 
documents in the strict sense of the word there were very little. There 
were in particular few letters. 

The dire meaning of this passage gradually dawns on the reader as 
he ploughs through the 620 large pages of the first volume. It con- 
tains little original material; either Prince Biilow failed to preserve 
it, or the choice he made for reproduction was singularly poor. Con- 
gratulatory messages from august personages and letters of adulation 
from subordinates take up at least as much space as historical docu- 
ments; and the Prince's 'unusually powerful memory 5 fills the book 
with masses of insipid anecdote, of irrelevant information, and of 
tiresome literary quotations the narrative stagnates, while the 
smooth causeur chatters. 

1 Memoirs, 1^97-1905, vol. i., by Prince von Biilow, trans, F. A Voigt. 

77 



78 VANISHED SUPREMACIES 

Even when I was at school I had a taste., or a weakness,, for 
quotations. When an idea came into my head I preferred to leave it 
in the form which some great prose writer or poet had discovered 
before me. 

Throughout the book futile erudition is more apparent than thought 
here is a typical passage, presumably Verified by the use of refer- 
ence books 9 : 

The Cyclades and Sporades were settled by lonians, the Thracian 
Islands successively by Athens and Sparta, Macedonia and Rome, 
Byzantium and Venice, and finally by the Osmans, and now a 
German ship was carrying the German Emperor past them to the 
former residence of the Emperor Gonstantine and Sultan Soliman. 

The book might well have been written by an elderly lady-in- 
waiting, originally chosen for her looks, noble birth, social polish, 
and liberal education, qualities in which she herself took consider- 
able pride; being observant, she picked up a certain amount of 
information, which, when carefully collated with more authoritative 
materials, may prove of some historical value; and having been dis- 
missed from Court, she takes her cattish revenge by ridiculing her 
late masters and reviling her successors. But the author is the states- 
man who for twelve years controlled the policy of Imperial Ger- 
many, first as Secretary of State, and next as Chancellor. Something 
of this incredible production may be ascribed to senility, but most 
of it undoubtedly reflects the man's normal self. He had seemed 
important when in charge of one of the most powerful political 
machines ever constructed- but then how superhuman some one 
switching on electric light would appear to a man who had never 
seen it done, and knew nothing about the mechanism. 

Of political thought and penetration, of a critical analysis of 
events there is nothing in this fat volume; nor is there a trace of real 
wit, amusing malice, or finesse. The account is crude, flat, and child- 
ish an unconscious exposure of a pitiful set which ruled and ruined 
a nation, hard-working and intelligent, though uncouth, and, in a 
deeper sense, not altogether civilized. The insincerity of the author 
is transparent, and even more unpleasant than his incessant attacks 
on William II are his attempts at camouflaging them. Here is his 
account of a cruise with the Emperor: 

The weather was beautiful; the Baltic as cairn as an inland lake, 
which was just what the Kaiser wanted. He was filled with a passion- 
ate love for the sea, but, like his mother, the Empress Frederick, and 
also like Admiral Nelson, he was plagued with seasickness. 



MEN WHO FLOUNDERED INTO THE WAR 79 

Yes, exactly like Nelson. And then: 

... every naval officer would tell me that no one knew the naval 
signals better than the Kaiser, that no one knew the technical 
vocabulary of navigation so well as he, yet that he was quite 
incapable of sailing the tiniest vessel. 

William II loved display; he used ... to wear as many orders as he 
could. His self-esteem rose when he took a field-marshal's baton in 
his hand, or, on shipboard, the admiral's telescope, which, on the 
high seas, replaces the marshal's baton. 

Although in appearance Billow defends the Kaiser against the 
accusation of cowardice, he does his best to cover the All-Highest 
War Lord with ridicule. Here are a few examples. William II was 
fond of making presents of a picture in which he appeared e with 
sword uplifted, leading his Royal Uhlans in a manoeuvre attack*. 

This picture showed what he really wanted: a smart 'conduct 5 
and a 'dashing '^manner, but no real danger, no serious test. He never 
wanted to ride in any attacks but those made in manoeuvres. 

These attacks were specially prepared for His Majesty. The ground 
was chosen months beforehand and put in order. The royal horses 
were taken over it till they knew it perfectly. As far as human cal- 
culation could foresee everything would go well. 

What William II most desired . . . was to see himself, at the head 
of a glorious German Fleet, starting out on a peaceful visit to Eng- 
land. The English Sovereign, with his fleet, would meet the German 
Kaiser in Portsmouth. The two fleets would file past each other, the 
two Monarchs, each wearing the naval uniform of the other's 
country, and wearing the other's decorations, would then stand on 
the bridges of their flagships. Then, after they had embraced in the 
prescribed manner, a gala dinner with lovely speeches would be held 
in Cowes. 

. . . this same Monarch, who . . . never had his fill of parades and 
parade marches, cavalry charges, and frontal attacks on the man- 
oeuvre ground, drew back when Bellona turned her stern face 
towards him and real war began. 

... a Prussian king who, in that moment, could do no more than 
apply his proved capacities to standing for hours at one spot in 
ignorance of all that was passing and in complete passivity, impresses 
one as a mockery of all Prussia's history. 

Nor does Billow, in a book which deals with the years 1897-1903, 
miss a chance of referring to the e painful 3 subject of the Emperor's 
flight to Holland in 1918. 

He makes fun of the Kaiser's 'unquenchable flood of eloquence', 
of the uneasiness felt by other sovereigns when exposed to his 



So VANISHED SUPREMACIES 

oratory, and of the way in which after every speech his entourage 
and Ministers had to try to prevent its being published as delivered. 
There are hints throughout the book that mentally the Kaiser was 
not altogether normal, but the suggestion is always ascribed to 
others, and loyally or charitably denied by Billow. In 1897 Count 
Monts reported from Munich 'great joy . . . over the exalted orator 
. . . who is clearly no longer a responsible person', and the Chan- 
cellor, Prince Hohenlohe, anxiously inquired of Billow whether he 
'considered that the Kaiser was really absolutely sane'. At Jerusalem, 
when the Kaiser was about to deliver a speech in church, the 
Empress herself is described as casting 'anxious looks' at Billow. 

She was evidently seized with fear lest her consort, overpowered 
by the solemnity of the moment and under the influence of the 
frightful heat, might no longer be quite in his right mind. 

In 1900 Prince Philip Eulenburg, considered an intimate friend 
of the Kaiser's, feared 'a nervous crisis the character of which can- 
not be foretold', and in 1903, during a cruise c on board this floating 
theatre' (the Imperial yacht), the Emperor 'made a terrible impres- 
sion' on him 'pale, glancing about him uneasily, orating, and 
piling lie upon lie. Not healthy this is probably the mildest verdict 
that can be given'. But Billow defends his late friend and master: 

I feel bound to reiterate once more that I am firmly convinced 
that William II was not mentally deficient, but he was certainly 
superficial, hypersensitive to impressions, lacking in self-criticism and 
self-control. 

The years of 1898-1901 were crucial in the history of Anglo- 
German relations. These were the years of Mr. Joseph Chamber- 
lain's plans for a close understanding or alliance, of the agreements 
concerning Samoa and the Portuguese colonies, of England's search 
for a new orientation, 'splendid isolation' being no longer practic- 
able. Billow in his Memoirs refrains from giving an account of these 
talks and negotiations, nor does he explain his own, now published, 
despatches on the subject. But it is clear that he did not expect Great 
Britain to reach an understanding with France and Russia, that he 
suspected British statesmen of a design to use Germany as a cat's- 
paw against them, and that he meant to withhold German support 
till in a crisis Great Britain would have to pay for it any price which 
Germany might demand. Whatever part Hoktein and the Empero* 
may have had in the rejection of the British advances, the final 
responsibility for it falls on Billow. He prefers, however, to throw 
all the blame for subsequent development on his successors whom 



MEN WHO FLOUNDERED INTO THE WAR 8l 

the Homeric scholar never names without an epitheton ornans 
Bethmann Hollweg is always 'wretched and sanctimonious 9 , 
'clumsy', 'ineffective', 'awkward and simple', etc., etc. One wonders 
to what extent Billow's description of other men is an unconscious, 
accurate estimate of his own self. He writes: 

When I look back upon these intrigues, so often petty, still more 
often spiteful and low, I understand everything said by great poets, 
from Sophocles to Shakespeare., and deep thinkers, from La Roche- 
foucauld and Montaigne to Schopenhauer, about the low instincts of 
mankind and the worthlessness of the world. Though here I must not 
forget to add that I believe things to be no better in other countries. 
. . . The reason of such occurrences lies as little in the form of 
government as in the climate or in the race ; it is to be found in the 
baseness of human nature itself. 



The second volume of Billow's Memoirs 2 is superior to the first. 
Some important documents are reproduced, and certain crucial 
transactions of his Chancellorship elucidated, while the worst literary 
tricks of the author are less in evidence than in the first volume; 
there are fewer tags and quotations, fewer irrelevant stories, and 
there is less of his loving abuse of William II. 

Not that the tricks are dropped altogether. The Emperor, a 
'gifted, nobly-endowed character', is shown sending the Tsar pic- 
tures by his favourite painter, Knackfuss, 'as his own works', or 
publishing under his own name Prince Eulenburg's song ' Aegir'. He 
was 'so lovable and so amiable, so natural and so simple, so large- 
hearted and so broad-minded' 'I loved him with my whole heart'. 
This does not prevent Billow from gloating over his flight to Hol- 
land; from sneering at the 'Admiral of the Atlantic' who was unable 
to steer a yacht without bumping into something, and at the 
Supreme War-Lord who delighted in showy parades but feared war; 
and from describing him as a coward, a braggart, and a liar. One 
such lie Bfflow, characteristically, reported to Dr. Renvers, against 
whom it was directed, asking for a medical explanation of the case. 

Renvers . . . answered: 'If the Emperor were an ordinary patient 

1 should diagnose Pseudologia phantastica.' When I asked him to 
explain this technical term, he said with a laugh: * A tendency to live 
in phantasy. Or, to put it quite bluntly, to lie.' 

2 Memoirs, 1903-1909, vol. ii, by Prince von Biilow, trans. Geoffrey Dunlop 
and F. A. Voigt. 



82 VANISHED SUPREMACIES 

But while critical of the Kaiser, Billow seems unwittingly to emu- 
late him in his conceit as orator, statesman, soldier on parade, and 
God's own chosen instrument. Here are a few examples: 

. . . the value of words is incalculable. I doubt whether, in 1 906, we 
should have won such brilliant victories over Socialism if rny Reich- 
stag speeches of the previous months had not been circulated in 
millions of copies, and paved the way for our victory. 

In a letter to the Minister for War on i July 1 906 : 

God's help has enabled me to guide Germany safely through the 
danger in Morocco. 

To the Emperor, in November 1908, on the effect of some of his 
telegrams and speeches : 

The . . . distrust . . . evoked in all parties and classes of the nation, 
though it in no way shakes my confidence in God, in Your Majesty, 
and in Germany, compels me to use prudent tactics. 

On a circular which Billow had written and 'brought to the direct 
notice of the Emperor Francis Joseph': 

His Apostolic Majesty . . . certainly owed to it his power of resist- 
ance to the blandishments of the tempter Edward VII, whom he 
withstood on 1 3th August at Ischl far more successfully than did our 
mother Eve the serpent. 

And here is Billow at the Imperial manoeuvres of 1905: 

To my joy, in the course of these manoeuvres, the Kaiser permitted 
me twice to lead my old regiment past the flag at the trot and the 
gallop. When after the march past I pulled up left of His Majesty 
with the regulation volt, Deines, who stood next the Kaiser, said to 
me: 'Your beautiful volt gives the Kaiser far greater pleasure than 
the longest memorandum you could draw up for him.' Later I 
greeted the officers of my regiment, many of whom, within ten years, 
were to seal with their blood their loyalty to King and Country. . . . 
At the end of these manoeuvres, immediately after the defile, the 
Emperor handed me my brevet as General la suite, with uniform 
of the Royal Hussars. Here is the text. . . . 

These Memoirs are an incredible exposure, not of the Kaiser and 
of Billow alone, but of Germany's pre-war policy. Were any justi- 
fication required for Great Britain's attitude towards Germany 
during the years 1903-1909, none better could be found than in this 
volume. The exotic schemings of the Emperor, his offer of the old 
Kingdom of Burgundy to the King of the Belgians, his plan to force 



MEN WHO FLOUNDERED INTO THE WAR 83 

Denmark into a political surrender to Germany, the German cal- 
culations how much longer they would have to mind their conduct 
towards Great Britain (Le. how soon their fleet would enable them to 
assume a different tone), and, finally, the prospect of such power in 
the hands of a man whom Billow himself describes as irresponsible 
and downright psychopathic who, in view of these facts frankly 
admitted by the ex-Chancellor, can say that British suspicions and 
caution were unfounded? To the Germans, and especially to 
William II, the most innocent suggestion of an agreement for the 
limitation of naval armaments was an indignity touching their 
* national honour' the Emperor "was set against all and every 
attempt at a naval understanding with England'. Meantime British 
statesmen quietly ignored German provocations and blunders. Thus 
Billow himself writes after the Emperor's interview with the Daily 
Telegraph: 'I am bound to admit that, officially, the English re- 
mained correct and friendly/ 

One of the most interesting chapters in the book is that on the 
Daily Telegraph interview when the story is told in full, the 
Emperor comes out better than Billow. The interview was written 
up, in the autumn of 1908, by an English friend from political pro- 
nouncements which the Emperor had made in private company, 
almost a year earlier during his visit to England, and ij was sent to 
him for approval. The Emperor, very correctly, submitted it to 
Billow who, instead of examining it himself, handed it on to some 
subordinates. These did not dare to raise objections to anything 
which came from the Emperor, and returned the paper without 
criticism to Billow who released it without having read it. None the 
less he seems to have felt nothing more than a formal responsibility 
in the matter, and if hereafter he defended the Emperor, in however 
slighting a manner, he thought himself heroically loyal .and made the 
Emperor submit to numerous lectures on his behaviour. 



2. CONRAD VON HOTZENDORF 

FIELD-MARSHAL FRANCIS CONRAD VON HOTZENDORF was 
born at Penzing, near Vienna, in 1852; he was educated at the 
Military Academy at Wiener-Neustadt, and as a lieutenant served in 
the Bosnian campaign of 1878. Subsequently, as a teacher at a mili- 
tary school, he wrote a book on infantry tactics which became a 
manual in the Austro-Hungarian army. In 1906 he was appointed 
Chief of the General Staff. 



84 VANISHED SUPREMACIES 

From the very outset he championed an aggressive policy, and 
hardly anyone in Europe in a responsible position during the decade 
preceding 1914 has an equal record of constant incitement to war. 
In 1907 he pressed for war against Italy, in January 1908 he de- 
clared that 'the problem of Serbia and Montenegro should be solved 
during the coining year by war; we could also deal simultaneously 
with Italy'. In 1909 he advocated the annexation of Serbia, and the 
fact that the Bosnian crisis passed without war and conquest left him 
with a rankling grievance on which he constantly harped. When in 
1911 Italy had engaged on the Tripolitan expedition, Conrad de- 
manded that advantage should be taken of her temporary weakness. 
Venetia should be annexed. Such a war, he argued, would raise the 
spirit of the Austro-Hungarian army, which 'has suffered from the 
policy of continuous compromise, hesitations, and concessions'. In 
the memorandum to the Emperor dated 15 November 1911, he 
demanded war against Italy for the Spring of 1912. Count Aehren- 
tal, though mortally ill, with all his waning strength opposed Con- 
rad's policy of aggression. The Emperor Francis Joseph took 
AehrentaPs side, and very sharply reprimanded Conrad for his 
'continuous attacks against AehrentaP, declaring the peace policy to 
be his own and telling Conrad that 'everybody has to accommodate 
himself to it'; however probable the war with I.taly might be, it 
should not come unless Italy provoked it. The Emperor closed the 
talk with the pointed remark that c up to now there never has been a 
war party in our midst'. Conrad drew the consequences, and his 
resignation was immediately accepted. On 30 November 1911 he 
was appointed Army Inspector. 

In 1912 followed the Balkan wars, and on 6 December Conrad, 
who at that time had a warm supporter in the heir apparent, the 
Archduke Francis Ferdinand, was re-appointed Chief of the General 
Staff. He felt that now he had come into his own, and with increased 
zest resumed his war propaganda. In January 1913 he officially de- 
manded a general mobilization against Serbia to be declared on i 
March and to be followed by war. He failed once more, as Germany 
refused to let herself be dragged into war, and even the Archduke 
Francis Ferdinand was opposed to it. Another 'chance' was missed 
to Conrad's intense grief. 

When the news of the Sarajevo murder reached Conrad von 
Hotzendorf , he, for one, felt no need to inquire whether any respon- 
sibility for it rested with Serbia, or to make up his mind as to the 
course to be taken. On 29 June he told Count Berchtold, the Austro- 
Hungarian Minister for Foreign Affairs, that immediate action was 



MEN WHO FLOUNDERED INTO THE WAR 85 

required, and that it should be a mobilization against Serbia. Berch- 
told replied that he wished to await the result of the judicial inquiry; 
and this view, as he informed Conrad on i July, was shared by the 
Emperor, and by Count Tisza and Count Stuergkh, the Hungarian 
and the Austrian Prime Ministers. c Tisza, he said, was opposed to 
war against Serbia, as he feared that Russia would attack and Ger- 
many desert us. Stuergkh, on the other hand, expected the inquiry 
to yield good grounds for action. I maintained that an energetic 
stroke alone could avert the danger from Serbia. The murder com- 
mitted under her auspices supplied the ground for war. 31 

'Material relating to time previous to murder yields no evidence 
of propaganda having been supported by the Serbian Government 
. . .', wired on 1 3 July from Sarajevo Herr von Wiesner, who had 
been sent by the Austro-Hungarian Foreign Office to inquire into 
the matter. 'Nothing proves, or even suggests that the Serbian 
Government had a hand in organizing or preparing the murder or 
that it supplied the arms.' But Conrad treated such evidence as 
nothing better than * a preliminary account of the point then reached 
in the inquiry' into a question which he, from the very first, had 
settled in his mind, without any evidence whatever. In fact, his end- 
less, wearisome, hackneyed references to Serbia's 'crime', to her 
'brutal provocation' of the Habsburg Monarchy, etc., are nothing 
but His habitual cant. 

His real reasons are acknowledged at the outset of this volume: 

'Two principles were in sharp conflict: the maintenance of Aus- 
tria as a conglomerate of various nationalities . . . and the rise of 
independent national States claiming their ethnic territories from 
Austria-Hungary.' Serb activities brought this conflict to a head, and 
'for this reason, and not with a view to expiating the murder, 
Austria-Hungary had to go to war against Serbia'. 

But even in the minds of those who professed the desire to await 
the results of the judicial inquiry (in the firm hope that it could be 
made to prove what they desired) the foremost question was whether, 
if Austria plunged into war, she could count on the absolute support 
of Germany during the Balkan wars Germany had refused to sup- 
port the war party in Austria. Berchtold's chef de cabinet, Count 
Hoyos, was therefore sent to Berlin; the German Emperor com- 
mitted himself in his typically impetuous way, and an understanding 
was reached with Zimmermann, the Under-Secretary of the German 
Foreign Office, who henceforth co-operated with the most extreme 
war party in Austria. 

1 Aus meiner Dienst&it, vol. iv, Conrad von Hotzendorf. 



86 



VANISHED SUPREMACIES 



Tomorrow we shall have a reply [said Berchtold to Conrad on 
6 July]. The German Emperor has said 'Yes , but he must still talk 
to Bethmann Hollweg. What will be the attitude of his Majesty [the 
Austrian Emperor]? 

MYSELF: If Germany agrees his Majesty will be for war against 
Serbia. 

COUNT BERCHTOLD : Tisza is against the war. He fears a 
Rumanian invasion of Transylvania. What happens in Galicia when 
we mobilize against Serbia? 

MYSELF : In Galicia we shall not mobilize for the present. But if 
there is a threat from Russia we shall have to mobilize the three 
Galician Army Corps. 

COUNT FORGACH: I do not doubt that Germany will go with us; 
it is her duty as an ally, and moreover her own existence is at stake. 

MYSELF: When can I get the German reply? 

COUNT BERCHTOLD: Tomorrow. But the Germans will ask us what 
is to happen after the war. 

MYSELF: Tell them that we do not know ourselves. 

But Germany asked no questions. Hoyos could report that she left 
Austria a free hand and would unreservedly stand by her. Tisza 
alone had doubts and asked questions. After the Cabinet Council of 
7 July, in which all the others demanded war, he addressed a Mem- 
orandum to the Emperor registering his dissent. 'In all probability 
such an attack against Serbia would provoke the intervention of 
Russia and therefore a world war, in which case, in spite of Berlin 
optimism, I would consider Rumania's neutrality at least doubtful. 3 
Altogether he considered the diplomatic position in Europe most 
unfavourable to Austria-Hungary, and urged that a moderate, not 
a threatening, Note should be sent to Serbia, and the possibility left 
to her to accept a diplomatic defeat. In spite of my devotion to your 
Majesty's service, or rather because of it, I am unable to share in 
the responsibility for an exclusively and aggressively warlike 
denouement! 

Meantime the war party proceeded with its plans. On 8 July 
Berchtold informed Conrad that a short-term ultimatum would be 
presented to Serbia. 

COUNT BERCHTOLD: What happens if Serbia lets it come to a 
mobilization and then gives in on every point? 
MYSELF : Then we march into Serbia. 
COUNT BERCHTOLD: Yes but if Serbia does nothing at all? 
MYSELF: Then we shall remain there till our expenses are paid. 



MEN WHO FLOUNDERED INTO THE WAR 87 

COUNT BERCHTOLD: We shall put our ultimatum only after the 
harvest and the Serajevo inquiry are concluded. 

MYSELF: Better today than tomorrow; so long as the situation 
remains what it is. If our opponents get wind, they will prepare. 

COUNT BERCHTOLD: Care will be taken that the secret is pre- 
served. . . . 

MYSELF: When is the ultimatum to be sent? 

COUNT BERCHTOLD: In a fortnight. On 22 July. It would be good 
if you and the Minister for War went on leave, so as to give the 
impression that nothing is happening. 

Conrad cordially endorsed this view 'Everything has to be 
avoided which might alarm our opponents and make them take 
counter-measures; on the contrary, a peaceful complexion must be 
put on everything.' Therefore on 14 July he and the Minister for 
War went on leave, which was to be broken off in eight days, simul- 
taneously with the presenting of the ultimatum. 

Events and conversations are recorded in Conrad's book in a 
steady, indiscriminate flow, true to life; so that, just as in life, one 
finds it difficult to fix the moment when decisions ripened until sud- 
denly they are treated as irrevocable. A week earlier the question of 
Germany's co-operation seemed in doubt; next the German Em- 
peror was made to commit himself; and in the end his promise came 
to be considered binding on Austria, Berchtold., who went to see the 
Emperor at Ischl on 9 July, reported to have found him c very deter- 
mined and calm. His Majesty seemed for action against Serbia and 
merely feared possible troubles in Hungary [obviously from the non- 
Magyar nationalities]. Nor could one now draw back any more, be 
it merely because of Germany. Tisza pleads for caution and is against 
war; but Baron Burian has gone to Budapest to talk to him/ Finally, 
at the Cabinet Council of 19 July, Tisza agreed to war, merely 
demanding a solemn and unanimous resolution that no annexations 
would be made in Serbiahe feared for Magyar dominion should 
any further Slav territories be included in the Habsburg Monarchy. 

The ultimatum to Serbia was postponed by a day because Berch- 
told preferred to wait until President Poincare had left Petersburg. 
It was presented on 23 July at 6 P.M., and even before the prescribed 
48 hours had elapsed, on 25 July at 8 A.M., on (uncertain) news of a 
Serb mobilization, Conrad was already pressing for a mobilization 
order: * where strategic considerations arise, it is for me to make 
suggestions and the rest does not concern me,' The same night eight 
Army Corps half the Austro-Hungarian Army were mobilized. 
Then Russia on her part began to prepare for mobilization, declar- 



88 VANISHED SUPREMACIES 

ing, however, that she would not actually mobilize unless the 
Austrian troops crossed the Serbian frontier. On 28 July Austria- 
Hungary declared war on Serbia, and Russia mobilized the military 
districts of Kiev, Odessa, Moscow, and Kazan. 

On 30 July the German Ambassador informed Berchtold of the 
British offer of mediation a quatre, adding the urgent request of the 
German Cabinet that Austria-Hungary 'should accept England's 
mediation under these honourable conditions'. With this Note 
Berchtold, Conrad, and the Minister for War went to the Emperor. 
The question was discussed what demands should be put to Serbia. 

She would have to accept our ultimatum word for word and repay 
all the expenses arising from the mobilization. 

I added that territorial cessions would have to be demanded, such 
as would at least secure our military position: Belgrade and Sabac 
with the adjoining territory for the raising of extensive fortifications, 
for which, too, Serbia would have to pay. 
THE EMPEROR: They will never agree to that. 
COUNT BERCHTOLD: Further, Count Tisza has demanded that we 
should not ask for any cessions of territory. 

I rejoined that we could not stop operations against Serbia when 
all was in progress; it would be impossible as the Army would not 
stand it. We would have to tell Germanyif Russia mobilizes, we 
too, would have to mobilize. 
The upshot of the talk with the Emperor is summarized as follows: 

War against Serbia is to be continued. 

The British offer is to receive a very polite answer but without its 
substance being accepted. 

General mobilization is to be ordered on i August with 4 August 
as the first day of mobilization; but this was to be talked over further 
the next day (31 July). 

Yet it seemed for a moment as if the Emperor William thought 
of drawing back, and as if there had been a change in the attitude 
of Berlin owing to the dropping out of Italy. Conrad's representative 
in the Information Bureau of the German General Staff wired to 
him on 30 July after a talk with Moltke: 

Russian mobilization no reason yet for mobilizing; only on out- 
break of v/ar between Austria-Hungary and Russia. In contra- 
distinction to the by now customary Russian mobilizations and de- 
mobilizations, German mobilization would unavoidably lead to war. 
Do not declare war on Russia but await Russian attack. 

To this Conrad replied: 'We shall not declare war on Russia nor 
start the war.' 



MEN WHO FLOUNDERED INTO THE WAR 89 

But a telegram received the same day at 7 P.M. from the Austrian 
Ambassador in Berlin 'dispelled our fears concerning Germany's 
attitude. We were informed that Germany had declared on Sunday 
at Petersburg that Russian mobilization would be followed by 
German mobilization.' 

On the morning of 31 July I was informed by the Foreign Office 
that Germany would address an ultimatum to Russia concerning her 
military preparations. My above telegram to General von Moltke, 
dispatched on 30 July, crossed another telegram from , Moltke 
received by us on 31 July at 7.45 A.M.; it ran as follows: 'Face 
Russian mobilization: Austria-Hungary must be preserved, mobilize 
immediately against Russia. Germany will mobilize. By compensa* 
tions compel Italy to do her duty as ally.' 

Further the following telegram was received from our Military 
Attache at Berlin : 'Moltke says that he considers the position critical 
if Austria-Hungary does not immediately mobilize against Russia. 
Russia's declaration concerning ordered mobilization renders neces- 
sary Austro-Hungarian counter-measures., which is to be mentioned 
in published explanation. This would constitute treaty case for Ger- 
many, With Italy reach honest agreement by giving compensations 
so that Italy remains actively on the side of Triple Alliance, by no 
means leave a single man on Italian frontier. Refuse renewed Eng- 
lish demarche for maintenance of peace. For Austria-Hungary en- 
during of European war last measure of self-preservation. Germany 
absolutely stands by her.' 

I went with these wires to the Minister for War and with him to 
Count Berchtold, where we met Count Tisza, Count Stuergkh, and 
Baron Burian. After I had read out the wires. Count Berchtold 
exclaimed: 'Das ist gelungen! (This is excellent!) Who rules: Moltke 
or Bethmann?' 

Berchtold then read out the following telegram from the German 
Emperor to the Emperor Francis Joseph, received at Schoenbrunn 
on 30 July at 8 P.M.: *I did not think it possible to refuse personal 
request from Russian Emperor to make an attempt at mediation with 
a view to avoiding world conflagration and maintaining world peace, 
and I have yesterday and today instructed my Ambassador to submit 
proposals to your Government. Among other things they suggest that 
Austria after occupation of Belgrade and other places should make 
known her conditions. I should be most grateful if you could let me 
have your decision as soon as possible. In most faithful friendship, 
WILLIAM.' 

Count Berchtold having read the telegram turned towards me 
saying: C I have asked you to come here, because I had the impression 
that Germany was drawing back; but now I have received from the 



9 VANISHED SUPREMACIES 

most authoritative military quarter the most reassuring declaration.' 
Thereupon it was decided to ask his Majesty to order a general 
mobilization. 



This was issued the same day at 12.23 P M - ^ ut meanwhile Con- 
rad's telegram saying that Austria-Hungary would not declare war 
on Russia nor start the war had reached Moltke and elicited from 
him the following reply, received in Vienna on 3 1 July at 7. 15 P.M. : 
'Will Austria desert Germany?' 

Conrad had, of course, no difficulty in answering this. Events had 
outpaced the wires. 

For the time being Austria refrained from declaring war on 
France and England, not from any special sympathy, but from fear 
lest her own fleet should be caught unprepared. An interesting 
scheme was discussed of sending it, together with the Goeben and 
Breslau, into the Black Sea, where, by securing Rumanian and 
Bulgarian coasts and by attacking that of Russia, it was expected to 
help in getting these two Balkan States into the war on the side of 
the Central Powers. This scheme had, however, to be dropped be- 
cause the Admiral commanding the Austro-Hungarian Fleet 
declared it impracticable and the fleet insufficiently prepared. 
Meantime Berchtold twice assured France (on 9 and 10 August) 
that no Austro-Hungarian troops had been sent to the Western front, 
though on the same days Moltke was thanking Conrad for the heavy 
howitzers sent to Belgium. 

Moltke had recommended an ( honest arrangement' with Italy 
which would have secured her help at the price of the Trentino. At 
one time, but only for a moment, Conrad himself seemed to have 
dallied with the idea, adding that 'after a successful war one perfidy 
could be repaid by another and the Trentino could be retaken from 
the blackmailers' with which the honest Moltke seems to have 
agreed: 'Once the war with Russia is finished you can always chal- 
lenge Italy, and Germany will stand by you.' 

On the outbreak of war, 5 August, Moltke addressed a cordial 
letter to Conrad which started with the admission that 'our proceed- 
ings in Belgium are certainly brutal, but it is a question of life and 
death, and who gets into our way has to bear the consequences', and 
finished with a hearty Teuton Mit Gott, mein Herr Kamerad!' 
The third postscript to this letter ran as follows: 

Gather all your strength against Russia. Even the Italians cannot 
be such mean dogs as to stab you in the back. Unleash the Bulgars 
against Serbia and let that rabble kill off each other. Now there is 



MEN WHO FLOUNDERED INTO THE WAR Ql 

but one goal for you: Russia! Drive these knout-bearers into the 
Pripet marshes and drown them. Yours ever, MOLTKE. 

In a letter of 13 August Conrad reciprocated these fantasies: 

Will Germany let the six English Divisions land on the Continent 
without a naval battle? It would be grand to catch the transports 
and sink them. 

They were indeed to drown currum et aurigam\ but failed to 
foresee which. 



3. COUNT STEPHEN TISZA 1 

COUNT STEPHEN TISZA, Hungarian Prime Minister at the out- 
break of the First World War, was the strongest man in the Habs- 
burg Monarchy and one of the very few among its statesmen with 
whom even Germany had to count. He was at first opposed to the 
measures which brought on the war; what was it, that about the 
middle of July 1914, made him give way to Berchtold, Conrad, and 
other irresponsible warmongers? To this question even his letters fail 
to supply an answer; but they confirm what was obvious to those 
acquainted with Tisza's views and mentality -that he did not object 
to a war policy as such, but to the moment chosen for action. He 
wrote on 27 August 1914: 

Twenty bitter years I was oppressed by the idea that this Mon- 
archy, and with it the Magyar nation, were doomed, for the Lord 
means to destroy those whom he deprives of reason. During the last 
few years things began to take a turn for the better. Again and again 
joyous events awakened a hope of new life : a hope that history will 
not after all coldly dismiss us. Now, in these momentous days, the 
decision will be reached. 

Thus to Tisza the old peace policy of Austria-Hungary, and not the 
turn which it had been given since 1908, appeared as demented. 

Tisza, for one, clearly realized to what an extent the fate of the 
Magyar State was bound up with the survival of the Habsburg 
Monarchy. While the Dualist structure of the Monarchy and the 
Hungarian constitution effectively precluded any far-reaching Habs- 
burg intervention in Hungary's internal affairs, it enabled Magyar 

1 Graf Stefan Tisza: Briefe vol. i, cd. Oskar von Wertheimer. 



g2 VANISHED SUPREMACIES 

statesmen, leaders of a nation of nine millions, to rule the other 
nationalities of Hungary with a rod of iron, and at the same time 
to direct the foreign policy of a Great Power. One would search in 
vain in these letters for any trace of that 'bondage' which, after the 
war, the Magyars alleged they had lived in before 1918 so as to 
establish their alibi with regard to a policy crowned with disaster. It 
was the Magyars who directed Austria-Hungary's foreign policy; 
and, according to Tisza, they alone were fit to do so. Thus, on 1 1 
August 1914 he wrote to Hunan, his representative at Vienna (Hun- 
garian Minister a later e): 'If the Monarchy is to preserve its capacity 
for action and its political quality, the deciding influence in foreign 
affairs has to remain with the Magyar nation. 5 But not in private 
letters alone did he state this view, which could hardly have been 
palatable to the Austrians; in a circular issued on 31 December 1914 
to the heads of the Hungarian counties, Tisza inserted the following 
brief and significant statement: 'The power of the [Magyar] nation 
and its decisive influence on the fate of the Monarchy must grow in 
proportion to its sacrifices and exertions.' And at the end of April 
1915, replying to an alleged message from Sonnino, he declared: 

The lasting friendship between Italy and Hungary is the natural 
outcome of common interests and feelings, and the preponderance of 
the Hungarian element in the direction of Austria-Hungary's policy 
ensures that her diplomatic and military actions will never be 
directed against Italy. 

Magyar preponderance was the inevitable result of political con- 
ditions within the two Habsburg States. There were two Prime 
Ministers in the hyphenated Austro-Hungarian Monarchy and only 
one Foreign Minister, who was not a member of either Cabinet and 
in theory had to carry out the policy of both; but while Austria's 
internal incoherence and the decay of her Parliamentary institutions 
had reduced her Prime Minister to the level of an official (which he 
usually was by antecedents), the Magyars, by effectively depriving 
the other nationalities of Hungary of their due representation in the 
Budapest Parliament, had succeeded in preserving the appearances 
of a strongly-welded national State and in establishing a firm Parlia- 
mentary Government. The Foreign Minister could ignore the 
Austrian Prime Minister, but when on one occasion Burian, while 
he was Tisza 's representative, was refused information even though 
merely about a matter of secondary importance (Berchtold feeling 
bound by a promise of absolute secrecy), Tisza wrote to Berchtold 
on 4 September 1914: 



MEN WHO FLOUNDERED INTO THE WAR 93 

I agree with you that the present case is of small practical impor- 
tance. This does not., however., absolve me of the duty to emphasize 
that even the strictest discretion and secrecy cannot extend to the 
Hungarian Prime Minister. I, too, am responsible for foreign policy; 
it is my task, as representing the Hungarian State to exercise its legal 
influence, and I can serve only with a Foreign Minister whom I can 
fully trust to withhold nothing whatever from me. 

By the beginning of 1915, in view of the negotiations with Italy, 
Tisza decided that a change was necessary at the Foreign Office. He 
therefore went to Vienna, and on 10 January informed Berchtold of 
what he was going to say to the Emperor: that a stronger, more 
determined man had to be put in his place. Thereupon Berchtold, 
'in his usual manner of a good child . . . replied, laughing: "I shall 
be awfully grateful to you if you say it to Mm. I say it all the time, 
but he does not believe me. If you say so, he will".' The 'good child' 
now gaily left the Foreign Office, which was offered by the Emperor 
to Tisza. But Tisza thought: 'Also from my present position I can 
influence foreign policy, 5 and advised the Emperor to appoint 
Burian. *I added, that it would perhaps reassure his Majesty . . , that 
he [Burian] agreed with me in all important matters, and was a close 
friend of mine, so that we were sure of intimate, harmonious co-- 
operation.' And he advised Burian to have a special telephone con- 
nexion with him installed in the new office. 

The war had broken out over the problem of the Habsburg 
dominions; both Italy and Rumania had territorial claims against 
them, but were bound by traditional friendships and economic ties 
to Germany. In these circumstances it was natural that the German 
Foreign Office should take the lead in the vital diplomatic negotia- 
tions with these two Powers; but if they were to be bought off, 
Austria-Hungary would have to foot the bill. Germany had no 
objection to sacrificing scraps of Austrian territory the Trentino to 
Italy, and part of the Bukovina to Rumania; moreover, she desired 
concessions to be made by Hungary to the Transylvanian Rumans. 
Austria was a corpse, and the Habsburgs were always ready to barter 
territories now they had their eyes fixed on Russian Poland. But 
Hungary was a historic and geographical unit, and to the Magyars 
every square foot of territory belonging to the Lands of the Crown 
of St. Stephen was sacrosanct; and though they had no feeling about 
Austrian territory, they resisted cessions to Italy and Rumania; for 
if once that game was started, what certainty was there that it could 
be stopped at the frontiers of Hungary? And as for interference in 
internal Hungarian affairs, Tisza, while assuring the Germans that 



94 VANISHED SUPREMACIES 

he himself meant to meet the wishes of the Rumans of Transylvania, 
refused to have either the extent or the time of his concessions pre- 
cribed by Berlin. 

I must ask you insistently [he wrote to Berchtold on 4 September 
1914.3 in reply to German suggestions in that matter] not to take 
Tschirschky [the German Ambassador in Vienna] tragically. It is his 
custom to climb about on superlatives'. As far as I know, nothing as 
yet has come direct from Berlin, but even if it had,, we could face 
matters calmly. Germany needs us as much as we need her. Threats 
between us are ridiculous. There is no occasion for fears. No one can 
value the German alliance higher than I do. We must render it most 
valuable to them by loyalty and the greatest possible exertions; 
German attempts at preponderance must, however, be met in a 
friendly, calm, determined manner. 

In the dealings with Italy, the Central Powers had the active sup- 
port of the Pope who, in conjunction with Prince Billow and Erz- 
berger, practically prescribed what cessions Austria-Hungary should 
make not an easy position for the unfortunate Macchio, the 
Austro-Hungarian Ambassador to the Quirinal. On 9 May Erz- 
berger wired from Rome to Berlin: 

Developments have convinced me of necessity definitely to exclude 
Macchio. Please insist that Vienna instruct him today to get ill. He 
must not leave his house nor receive visitors, or else he intrigues. . . . 
There can be no mercy or pity for Macchio, or regard for Vienna. 

But next day, under pressure from the Germans, the Vatican, and 
Giolitti, Macchio made the concessions they demanded. These Tisza 
considered excessive; and, although they could not be withdrawn 
any more, he telephoned to Burian: 

... I request you to send immediately instructions to Macchio for- 
bidding him to make further concessions beyond those authorized by 
us, and ordering him to try with all his strength to reach favourable 
results on open points, while maintaining positive promises he has 
made in our name. 

And on 15 May Erzberger wired through the German Embassy to 
Father Count Andlau in Vienna: 

Best thanks for your successful endeavours. His Holiness thanks 
you most warmly. He has declared . . . that he must consider any 
withdrawal of these concessions by Austria as personally slighting 
him, for his Holiness has most particularly pleaded in favour of this 
Austrian offer. 



MEN WHO FLOUNDERED INTO THE WAR 95 

After the efforts had failed and Italy had entered the war, the 
Germans accused Austria-Hungary of having lost the game by refus- 
ing cessions of territory when the Germans thought a bargain could 
have been struck; while Vienna and Budapest accused the Germans 
of having destroyed the value of any offer they could make by freely 
running ahead of it. It seems highly probable that this combination 
of Germany's eagerness to make concessions at the expense of her 
ally, and of Magyar stubbornness in refusing them, had the worst 
possible effect; but the game was lost beforehand. Small concessions 
could not satisfy Italy who looked to great gains, while large ones 
could not satisfy her either, as she could not have trusted a victorious 
Austria-Hungary to abide l?y such a settlement. Italy's entry into the 
war was merely a question of time, and it was likely to be encouraged 
by a Russian defeat, which would have endangered her chances. 
When once a problem reaches a stage at which contrary develop- 
ments are apt to produce equally unfavourable results, it is doubtful 
whether any man can save the situation. 



4. HERR VON KUHLMANN 



HERR VON KUHLMANN, well known in London society during the 
years preceding the First World War, stepped for a while, in its last 
phase, into the very forefront of international politics, achieving con- 
siderable though ephemeral prominence. His Memoirs, published in 
J 949/ even * n tn is country gained a measure of recognition apt to 
endow them with undeserved credence. In the Spectator of 24 June 
1949, Sir Harold Nicolson attributed 'great historical importance' 
to 'this calm, serious, saddened, and in some way honourable book' ; 
while the reviewer in The Times Literary Supplement of 30 Septem- 
ber called it a 'revealing book which historians of the period 
1905-18 cannot well leave unread'- c it shows how near its author 
came to the attainment of aims that would have left Great Britain 
friendless and discredited in a Europe and a world made safe for 
Germany.' Revealing this autobiography certainly is as a self- 
exposure, and as such deserves being read; but it cannot be admitted 
in evidence. Trifling and self-important, suffused with the malig- 
nancy of a frustrated intriguer, these Memoirs if accepted would be 
more damaging to the men Kiihlmann commends than to those 
whom he tries to disparage. But his inaccuracy in matters big and 
1 Erinnerungen, Richard von Kiihlmann. 



96 VANISHED SUPREMACIES 

small the result of a failing memory, of slovenly workmanship, and 
of an innate disregard of truth eliminates him as a witness: on 
closer examination many of the transactions remembered by him in 
great and lively detail, change into mere comic potpourris, which 
must not be allowed to gain currency even in the lighter type of 
historical literature. It is stated by the publisher that Kiihlmann died 
before he could revise his proofs, and that only obvious errors were 
corrected ('and not nearly all of these', adds the reviewer in The 
Times Literary Supplement)', but had all been removed, the rem- 
nants of the book might no longer have been fit for publication. 

There is a deceptive facade to these Memoirs, as there was to their 
author. Contemporaries knew him for an 'entirely unscrupulous 
Intriguer* 2 a judgment confirmed by his autobiography; but they 
credited him with a first-rate brain c of his ability as a diplomatist 
there can be no doubt,' writes Lloyd George in his War Memoirs? 
Yet his contemporary dispatches, published in the Grosse Politik, are 
nowise remarkable, while even his earlier books lack poise, depth, 
and judgment, and sometimes descend to puerility. As an author he 
falls into one class with the Kaiser and Billow: a representative of 
the Wilhelminische A era. 

Richard von Kiihlmann, the son of a German director of the 
Anatolian Railways, was born in Constantinople, in 1873; entered 
the German diplomatic service in 1899;* was Secretary at the Tan- 
gier Legation, 1903-5; Counsellor at the London Embassy, 
1909-14; State Secretary from August 1917 till 9 July 1918, and 
chief German delegate to the peace conferences of Brest-Litovsk and 
Bucharest. At these historical junctures in his career, his chiefs hap- 
pened to be absent or weak, or at least not equal to their forceful 
assistant. At the age of thirty-one, as Charge d' Affaires at Tangier, 
he played a busy part in the first Morocco crisis, and at forty-four 
virtually directed Germany's foreign policy, Kaiser and Army Com- 
mand permitting. But dismissed in 1918, he lived another thirty 
years without re-entering politics: not for the lack of trying. One 
such attempt attained publicity. In 1929, while the Young Plan for 

2 See the note *An Ephemeral Career', in The Times of 1 1 July 1918. On 
the role he played at the London Embassy see Asquith, The Genesis of the War, 
p. 105. Even Sir Harold Nicolson, though lenient to him, describes him as 'not 
too scrupulous' * a remarkable man' possessed of 'intelligence unaccompanied 
by strength of character.' 

3 Vol. iv, p. 2082. 

4 Hardly any dates are given in Kiihlmann's Memoirs, and his entry in Wer 
ist's? (the German Who's Who) supplies a list of his decorations, but no proper 
service record. The above date, computed on the basis of his narrative, may 
be merely approximately correct. 



MEN WHO FLOUNDERED INTO THE WAR 97 

German reparations was being settled in Paris, Kuhlmann ap- 
proached the British Ambassador, Lord Tyrrell, with his pet idea of 
colonies for Germany. But he overreached himself when he followed 
up the talks with a letter; this, duly transmitted to London, produced 
an angry communication from Austen Chamberlain to Stresemann, 
who replied by completely disavowing Kuhlmann 's unauthorized 
activities and unwarranted intrusion. 5 It was perhaps the hope of a 
come-back, joined to easy financial circumstances, which made him 
keep silent in the igao's when others rushed into print with their 
memoirs: the Kaiser, Biilow, Bethmann Hollweg, Herding, 6 and 
Lichnowsky, Hindenburg, Ludendorff , Tirpitz, and Hoffman, Erz- 
berger and Scheidemann, Czernin, Burian, and Conrad von Hot- 
zendorf, or even secondary figures such as Schoen, Eckardstein, 
Musulin, J. Andrassy jun., Arz, Auffenberg, etc. All that Kuhl- 
mann published in the interwar period was several excursions into 
history and politics, superficial even when plausible/ flimsy, 8 or 
primitive to a staggering degree. 9 He prided himself on his historical 
erudition: I could never resist the temptation to get to understand 
the present in the light of the past.' 

In 1943, at the age of seventy, he started writing his autobio- 
graphy, finishing it in September 1944. By the time Hitler was 
tottering, Kuhlmann obviously felt it opportune to relate how he had 
tried to stave off the First World War, and next to bring it to a 
timely close; how he had endeavoured to secure a glorious future for 
Germany in Central Africa; how he very nearly saved both her and 
the world from the disasters which have befallen them since; and 
how he was frustrated. It were a pity had he not gone on record: for 
at certain crucial moments he did get hold of the right end of the 
stick, and without knowledge of the man it might seem strange that 
after having risen so high he achieved so little, and that he went 
down never to emerge again. 

So-called humour has its stereotypes. Some fifty years ago, Central 
European comic papers of the genteel, bourgeois variety went in for 
stories about the ageing spinster and the absent-minded professor, 
while inferior productions would sport, for instance, the vulgar 
figure of a semi-Balkanic commercial traveller. Herr von Kuhlmann, 

6 See Gustav Stresemann, His Diaries, Letters, and Papers, vol. iii (1940), pp. 
424-9. 

6 The book, Ein Jakr in der Reichskanzelei, is actually by Hertling's son. 

7 Thoughts on Germany (German editions 1931 and 1933; English edition 
1932). 

8 Die Diplomaten (1939), with a chapter on duorations. 

9 The Heritage of Testerday (German edition 1936; English edition 1938). 



98 VANISHED SUPREMACIES 

on his own level, somehow manages to recall that unattractive type 
and his enjoyments. Not that there is anything improper in his book 
it is his personality, polished yet crude and gross, that offends. He 
unconsciously depicts himself in writing of a friend: 'When he spoke 
of truffles in red wine, his eye of a poet would shine just as when he 
described the beauty of a divine woman.' Food, women, and the 
splendour of rich houses and luxury hotels is what Herr von Kiihl- 
mann seems to remember best, seeing himself as a refined bon viveur, 
a sportsman and traveller, a man of the great world, and an art 
connoisseur and collector. In short, here are 581 pages of 'high life', 
decked with the appropriate adjectives and cliches. Every woman is 
beautiful and accomplished sc hon, reizend, charmant, elegant, 
(though of one he says that she was 'really very beautiful'); the 
meals which his memory treasures are rich, succulent, delectable; 
while the houses he visited are described in the language of a classy 
house-agent or auctioneer. Nor is the reader ever allowed to forget 
Kiihlmann's interest in art, 'which invariably absorbed a substantial 
part of my working powers'. 

The least part of Kiihlmann's laudations goes to his chiefs. His 
first post was St. Petersburg, where Prince Radolin, a friend of his 
father's, treated him with wellnigh 'parental kindness'. A grand 
seigneur, 'kind and soft, and without any sharpness or hard pre- 
cisions', Radolin, according to Kiihlmann, owed 'his, after all un- 
usually brilliant career' to the sinister Holstein, whose confidential 
letters he would read out to Kiihlmann 'under seal of secrecy'. Simi- 
larly, at a later date in Paris, Radolin is shown having regular con- 
fabulations with Kiihlmann, kept secret especially from the Coun- 
sellor of the Embassy. With Kiihlmann there is usually someone to 
be short-circuited or circumvented. 

His next chief, Count Rex at Teheran, is merely seen worrying 
lest that 'exile' might be his last diplomatic post. In 1903 followed 
a short assignment to London, and Count Metternich, under whom 
Kiihlmann was to serve again 1909-12, comes in for a first dose of 
disparagement. His week-ends lasted four or five days; he would 
take holidays to shoot in Scotland or recuperate on the South Coast; 
but packets of blank sheets, signed in various places, were left to be 
filled in with non-committal stuff by his officials. On his return he 
would dictate brilliant dispatches. 'Were it sufficient in a diplomatist 
to write courageous and accurate reports, Count Paul Metternich 
would have to be placed among the remarkable diplomatists of his 
time'; but 'the essential part of an Ambassador's task consists in 
inducing correct decisions at home', while, by gaining influence with 



MEN WHO FLOUNDERED INTO THE WAR 99 

the leading men where accredited, he should 'carry on an active, 
constructive, go-ahead policy'. c ln that matter an appraisal of 
Metternich's activities in England would yield less favourable 
results.' 

Kiihlmann's next post was Tangier. The Minister, Freiherr von 
Mentzingen, was 'an experienced, painstaking diplomat, probably 
too painstaking 5 he lacked 'wider horizons 5 or any desire 'to 
assume responsibilities 5 . Instead of intriguing against France he tried 
to see justice done to German subjects by the Shereefian Govern- 
ment. 

All my endeavours to convince him how inopportune his policy 

was just at that time, and all . attempts, partly made through his 

charming wife and his clever mother-in-law, to deflect him from that 

course, proved unavailing. 

But Mentzingen soon went on leave, not to return. 'I never had . . . 
any conflicts with him 1 ; but may not Kiihlmann have had a hand 
in this timely disappearance ? 

1906: Washington. Freiherr Speck von Sternburg, a cavalry 
officer, had in 1898, as German Military Attache, helped Theodore 
Roosevelt with his Rough Riders. To please him when President, 
Speck was appointed Ambassador. 'I was never able to detect a 
great politician in him.' 1907-09: at The Hague, where the Minister, 
Herr von Schlozer, was 'an amiable man, devoid of political pas- 
sions 5 ; and was rescued by Kiihlmann from comic embarrassments 
caused to him by the Kaiser's visit to Holland. 

And then back to London, to the lonely bachelor and morose 
hypochondriac Metteraich, who, when things grew critical, would 
do nothing but 'sit passive with folded arms'. Hence a cleavage arose 
between them but never 'any controversy or even argument'; 
Kiihlmann would merely do things behind the Ambassador's back, 
or try to short-circuit him. Here is a typical tale. Kiihlmann was 
attending a fashionable wedding in Berlin at a date unnamed, but 
ascertainable through the Gotha Almanac as 12 March 1912. Dur- 
ing the 'excellent wedding dinner', he was summoned to the State 
Secretary, Herr von Kiderlen-Wachter, who made him report on the 
situation in London; and agreeing with his conclusions, took him, in 
spite of the late hour, to the Chancellor Bethmann Hollweg. It was 
decided that Kiihlmann should the next day return to London and 
seek an interview with Haldane (this was a month after Haldane's 
'mission' to Berlin). 'The Chancellor added quite casually: "Please 
also inform the Ambassador of what was settled today.'" But on 
hearing Kiihlmann 's report Metternich's face darkened visibly, and 



100 VANISHED SUPREMACIES 

he said somewhat abruptly: * Obviously they told you that I myself 
should discuss the matter with Haldane.' I replied that nothing of 
the kind had been said. . . . Still, if he desired to make the com- 
munication, I would comply with his wish. 

And next Kuhlmann was reprimanded from Berlin for his claim to 
deal with Haldane himself 'which did not impress me with Beth- 
mann Hollweg's strength of character 9 . The new draft for a German- 
British agreement, brought by him from Berlin, is printed in the 
Grosse Politik which also shows that on 14 March possibly 
before his return Metternich saw Grey in the presence of Haldane, 
and was given a draft approved by the British Cabinet: 11 it is diffi- 
cult to see how he could have let Kuhlmann handle the German 
counter-proposals. 

Metternich was informed at the end of April 1912 that he would 
be recalled from London, and left early in June. His successor, Frei- 
herr Marschall von Bieberstein, arrived at the end of the month, 
and in August went home for a holiday: he died in September. C I 
am convinced even now', writes Kuhlmann, 'that he would have 
been able to prevent the outbreak of the World War' 'he had the 
advantage of working in London on ground which was well pre- 
pared' (obviously not by Metternich). But then came Prince Lich- 
nowsky, who had made his career 'under the wing qf Princess Marie 
von Bulow' 

a grand seigneur whose forte was magnificent entertainments and an 
amiable personality. . . . Brilliant dinners, and a number of footmen 
and butlers, surprising even for English conditions, dressed in splen- 
did, absolutely correct, liveries, masses of silver and flowers, soon 
became the talk of the town among the upper classes. 

But what were his qualifications as Ambassador? Sir Edward Grey, 
writes Kuhlmann, once asked permission 

to put to me a somewhat delicate question, fully relying on my 
discretion. . . . He was in the habit of dictating minutes of conversa- 
tions while these were fresh in his memory. ... So he did also after 
visits from Prince Lichnowsky. But he thought he had noticed that 
the Prince was 'most inaccurate' about particulars, and therefore 
asked permission to submit to me his minutes of conversations with 
the Prince: I should tell him whether he had correctly understood 
the Ambassador. ... I agreed to this being done. But in the few 
months which separated us from the outbreak of war, it never so 
happened that Grey asked me to examine his notes. 

10 Vol. xxxi, pp. 167-9. u Ibid,, p. 178. 



MEN WHO FLOUNDERED INTO THE WAR 101 

The concluding statement would seem the most credible part of the 
story. 

In August 1914 Kiihlmann was sent to Stockholm, where the 
burden of work and responsibility seemed too great for the German 
Minister, Herr von Reichenau: while in Brazil he had suffered a 
severe sunstroke. 

I received a secret instruction to take as much as possible off his 
shoulders and to keep a watchful eye on him. Should I find that his 
nerves were no longer equal to the task ... he would be sent on sick- 
leave and I would carry on as Charge d* Affaires. 

Two months later Kiihlmann was transferred to Constantinople, 
only to find that his new mission resembled his previous one. 

Baron Wangenheim was apparently thought to be highly strung, 
and a robust assistant was deemed necessary. Much importance was 
attached in Berlin to bringing Turkey into the war, and it was felt 
that the Ambassador was remiss in pressing the matter. Still, to my 
great relief, I was not expected, as in Sweden, to take over if I 
thought it necessary, but to try, with the utmost consideration for 
Wangenheim, to overcome his inhibitions. 

And so Turkey was brought into the war; 'the Ambassador was 
inwardly pleased when it was accomplished without his having had 
to take the crucial decision'; and Kiihlmann's relations with him 
remained perfectly harmonious'. Wangenheim was Kiihlmann's 
tenth and last diplomatic chief, and looking back at the series one 
can merely wonder at the dictum in his Thoughts on Germany 
(p. 68): 'Our pre-war diplomacy was at least equal to the average of 
the diplomats of other countries.' 

Kiihlmann's next post was that of Minister to The Hague, from 
April 1915 till September 1916, when he returned as Ambassador to 
Constantinople: but this period seems blacked-out or confused in 
his memory he mumbles something about The Hague, and then 
passes straight on to the final phase of his career. Bethmann Hollweg 
and his Secretary of State having resigned in July 1917, the new 
Chancellor, Michaelis, 'persuaded' Kiihlmann to accept the Foreign 
Office. 'After we had reached basic agreement on the broad prin- 
ciples . . . Michaelis, I can truly say, left me completely independent 
in the conduct of foreign policy.' Even so he does not escape censure 
for 'political disloyalty', which 'unfavourably affected' Kiihlmann's 
judgment of his character. By October, Michaelis got into difficulties 
with the Reichstag, and asked Kiihlmann, on the point of going with 



102 VANISHED SUPREMACIES 

the Emperor to Constantinople, to intervene in a stormy debate. 
Kiihlmann took the opportunity to deliver 

a serious and sharp speech about Alsace-Lorraine, which concluded 
with a most heartfelt ' never 9 . . . . The Reichstag was deeply im- 
pressed and seemingly reunited ... by this appeal to its patriotic 
feelings. ... As I descended the great staircase ... I was surrounded 
by crowds of members . . . who excitedly . . . argued that the political 
position of the Chancellor . . was too seriously affected by that most 
unfortunate debate, for him to remain in office . . . and begged me to 
report to the Emperor accordingly. 

At that time 'the idea seems to have arisen in certain Parliamentary 
circles, probably in connexion with my speech on Alsace-Lorraine, 
that I should be his successor. No such thoughts entered my head.' 
And so, wholly disinterested, Kiihlmann took the first opportunity to 
report against his chief, and to tell the Emperor 

that the leaders of the most important majority parties had asked me, 
before I left, to submit to him that in their opinion there was no 
chance of further fruitful co-operation with Chancellor Michaelis. 

His successor, Count von Hertling, like Kiihlmann a Bavarian, 

from the first moment left me., I can truly say, in completely 
sovereign direction of foreign affairs, and never during the whole 
period of our collaboration was there the least, even momentary, 
clouding of relations between us. 

These were 'absolutely harmonious'; 'the aged Chancellor', who 
complained that at such a time he, 'a worn-out Professor of Philo- 
sophy', should be burdened with that office, in private conversation 
frequently spoke of Kiihlmann as his successor. But at the end of 
June the demi-gods' of the Army Command, Hindenburg and 
Ludendorff, demanded Kiihlmann } s dismissal. He, when told by the 
Emperor that their 'paths must part', pleaded the need of being 
allowed to bring to some conclusion secret peace talks which he 
claimed to have started with London. Finding that the decision was 
final, he felt that this would cost the Emperor his Crown. 

Thus in a diplomatic career of almost twenty years, Kiihlmann 
had but two chiefs he fully approved of: one- who died soon, and the 
other who was 'dead above ground'. 

In Kiihlmann's subjective story it is his attitude and emotions that 
matter rather than his facts. But from the way he remembers things 
which are of common knowledge and can easily be checked, con- 
clusions must be drawn for events of which he is sole witness. 



MEN WHO FLOUNDERED INTO THE WAR 103 

Here are a few examples. In 1900, in St. Petersburg, Kiihlmann 
was presented to 'the beautiful, melancholic-looking Empress 5 who 
'was unhappy because her eldest son . . . was a so-called "bleeder". 5 
Her only son was born in August 1904. 

At the end of September 1914, Kiihlmann learnt that he would 
be moved from Stockholm; 'some time later 5 he was transferred to 
Constantinople; he arrived in Berlin for instructions just when the 
Polish State was proclaimed by the Central Powers (which happened 
two years later, on 5 November 1916); in Vienna he discussed that 
proclamation with the Austrian Premier, Dr. von Koerber (ap- 
pointed in October 1916); and having visited Sofia, spent a few days 
in Bucharest, where the German Minister told him that the anti- 
German elements would not prevail in the lifetime of King Carol 
(who died on 10 October 1914). Kiihlmann has mixed up his first 
journey to Constantinople with the (forgotten) second journey. 

Similarly confused is his account of his London negotiations. In 
September 1911 he went to stay with friends in the Isle of Mull, in 
order 

to recover somewhat after the exciting and exhausting days of the 
[Agadir] crisis. Sir William Tyrrell had been in attendance at Bal- 
moral 12 during the visit of the Russian Foreign Minister, Isvolsky, 
and now likewise arrived at the house. . . . 

As Kiihlmann was leaving, Tyrrell offered to accompany him to the 
landing place; and having reviewed the events of the preceding few 
weeks, asked: 

'Are you satisfied with the state of our relations?' I expressed my 
deep dissatisfaction, and he declared himself in complete agreement. 
He argued that radical measures were required to place the relations 
of the two great countries on a satisfactory basis. We reached agree- 
ment that proper positive negotiations were needed to achieve a 
rapprochement, and that the old Anglo-German treaty concerning 
the Portuguese colonies offered a suitable basis. Tyrrell asked me 
whether I was prepared and determined to throw in my weight in 
favour of a rapprochement, and I, in clear terms, promised my co- 
operation. He, for his part, assured me that he would not fail us. 

Pondering over the talk, Kiihlmann concluded that Isvolsky must 
have spoken at Balmoral about the Balkan League which was being 
formed under Russian patronage, and that Isvolsky 's 'personal 
policy', actuated by a desire of revenge for his discomfiture in the 

12 Grey might have been 'in attendance* at Balmoral, but not his Private 
Secretary. 



104 VANISHED SUPREMACIES 

Bosnian crisis, must have moved Tyrrell to abandon his reserve and 
offer Germany a closer understanding. 'The great historical value 
of the conversation was that Tyrrell, who was nearly all-powerful in 
British foreign policy, favoured Anglo-German co-operation'; 'the 
true director of British foreign policy for the first time unreservedly 
showed me his hand'. Kiihlmann's suppositions were soon confirmed 
by a talk with Grey, to which he was invited in Metternich's 
absence. Grey spoke of the need of Anglo-German co-operation to 
prevent the Great Powers from being drawn into the imminent 
Turco-Bulgar War. 

Such is Kiihlmann's story. But Isvolsky left the Russian Foreign 
Office for the Paris Embassy in 1910; he did not visit Balmoral in 
1911; the Balkan League was started in the spring of 1912 ; and the 
Balkan War broke out in October 1912. Sazonov (not Isvolsky) was 
at Balmoral 23-29 September 1912; and Kiihlmann's talk with 
Grey can be identified as that of 7 October igis, 13 with another of 
14 October added to it. 14 But then where does Kiihlmann's histori- 
cal conversation with Tyrrell come in? If it occurred in September 
191 1 15 it loses its connexion with Russia's Balkan policy and Kiihl- 
mann's talk with Grey. On the other hand, there is no room for such 
a walk and talk in September 1912 : on the 24th, when the news of 
MarschalPs death reached Kuhlmann, he was shooting clay-pigeons 
in London, 16 and not deer in Scotland; and his wires and dispatches 
in the Grosse Politik place him in London throughout the period 
(unless signed blanks were used in his absence). Moreover, dating it 
September 1912 would make nonsense of a number of other state- 
ments in Kiihlmann's account. 17 

'The foundation of my political creed' and 'the lodestar of all my 
diplomatic work', writes Kuhlmann, was to gain for Germany a 
Colonial Empire in Africa 'commensurate with the power and the 
greatness of the mother country.' 18 Even Angola and Mozambique 
would have made that Empire 'sufficiently great and rich to give 

13 See Kuhlmann's cipher-wire of 7 October 1912, Grosse Politik, vol. xxxiii, 
No. 12240, pp. 175-6. 

14 See No. 12276, pp. 221-2, and No. 12284, PP- 228-32. 

15 Grey was at Balmoral 11-14 September 1911, and Tyrrell may have 
accompanied him. 

16 See Erinnemngen, p. 373. 

17 For instance, that Tyrrell and he were by no means pleased with the 
Haldane Mission (of February 1912), because it was liable to break the 'fine 
silk threads' of their conversations; or that Tyrrell advised Kulhmann to have 
a talk with the Colonial Secretary, Lewis Harcourt, when, in fact many talks 
between Harcourt and Metternich, Marschall, and Kuhlmann himself about 
the Portuguese colonies and the Congo are recorded in March-July 1912. 

18 Erinnerungen, pp. 245-6. 



MEN WHO FLOUNDERED INTO THE WAR 105 

scope to German energy for generations to come, and to lay solid 
foundations for Germany's economic well-being'. 19 This gives the 
measure of Kuhlmann's judgment: Germany's pre-igi4 Colonial 
Empire accounted for a half per cent of her foreign trade, and 
between 1887 and 1914 cost the German tax-payer about 
100,000,000; doubling its size would probably have increased 
these figures proportionately. 

Morocco supplied Kiihlmann with his first chance: he quickly 
'realized' the importance of Germany's economic interests, boosted 
them in Berlin, and tried to convince the French that Germany 
would uphold them; he claims to have instigated the Kaiser's visit to 
Tangier, 20 which ostentatiously acknowledged Morocco's indepen- 
dence, to Kiihlmann an object of bargain to be used in a 'sharp and 
quick action'. 21 But Billow and Holstein were out to humiliate 
France instead of blackmailing her; and even Kuhlmann's last over- 
tures which, he thinks, 'might well have led to a profitable under- 
standing for the future', were frustrated by 'unfortunate influences 
in Berlin' when the work 'was nearly completed'. 22 

Here is the story as told in his Memoirs. 2 * On leave in Paris he met 
by chance the Tangier correspondent of the Agence Havas, with 
whom he claims to have had a curiously close association, 24 and who 
now suggested a private talk between him and some representative 
Frenchman. Kuhlmann picked for it Count de Cherisey, French 
Charge d s Affaires at Tangier. They met, and over lunch roughed 
out the basis for an agreement with which, completed but unavowed, 
France and Germany were to go to the Algeciras Conference: Ger- 
many was to offer no serious opposition to a French mandate for 
policing Morocco, and in exchange was to receive the entire French 
Congo, and the French right to pre-emption over the Belgian Congo, 
besides certain economic rights in Morocco. With this splendid bar- 
gain Kiihlmann rushed off to Berlin, merely to see it turned down 
by the nefarious Holstein. And next Kuhlmann's report vanished 
from the German archives. All that appears in the Grosse Politik is a 
memorandum, whose 'very unclear tenor (sehr unklare Fassung] 
suggests that Holstein had but imperfectly informed his colleagues 

19 Ibid., p. 343. 

20 In his Thoughts on Germany, p. 183, Kiihlmann includes that visit amcrig 
Germany's untoward 'threatening gestures*. 

21 Erinnerungen, pp. 203-45, and Thoughts on Germany, pp. 225-6. 

22 Thoughts on Germany, p. 226. 

23 Erinwrungen, pp. 246-50. 

24 See Erinnerungen, p. 206: 'Hardly ever was a more important message sent 
to the semi-official French telegraphic agency without my having previously 
been given an opportunity to talk over its contents.* 



I0 6 VANISHED SUPREMACIES 

of the matter'. (In stating the terms the memorandum speaks of 
'compensation in the French Congo', and not of ( the French Congo 
as compensation 5 , and while ascribing the initiative to the French, 
adds that c it is not clear from whom on the French side it came'.) 
Next Kiihlmann, having kept no copy of the text settled with 
Cherisey, asked him to obtain it from the Quai d'Orsay, only to 
learn that there, too, it had mysteriously vanished: 'the document 
obviously inconvenienced so many people that on both sides unscru- 
pulous politicians decided to suppress it.* 

A very different story was told by Cherisey to the French Com- 
mission on the Origins of the War. 25 He had made merely a verbal 
report to the Premier (who was also Foreign Minister), and himself 
had preserved nothing in writing. But he well remembered the trans- 
action: the initiative was Kiihlmann 's, and what Germany was to 
receive was a share in Moroccan public works and frontier rectifica- 
tions in the French Congo; but when Cherisey tried to discover 
whether Kiihlmann was authorized to make such proposals, he was 
merely told 'that they had the approval of influential men'. Here, in 
short, is a Kiihlmann intrigue, too clever to succeed, but now 
furbished up into a historical transaction. 

Kiihlmann magnifies the colonial negotiations which he carried 
on in London into e a great, constructive policy', fraught with far- 
reaching possibilities, and misinterprets (ill-advised) British attempts 
at meeting the Germans in a friendly manner. Could anyone have 
seriously expected a contingent agreement about Central Africa to 
extinguish Germany's naval ambitions or Britain's interest in the 
balance of power on the Continent? Elsewhere Kiihlmann admits 
that war may have been rendered 'scarcely avoidable' by the prob- 
lem of Austria-Hungary's future, 26 and that Britain was bound to 
join in immediately, lest she be 'confronted in a few weeks by a 
victorious Germany in occupation of the entire Channel coast'. 27 No 
wonder then if in July-August 1914 Kiihlmann 's spurious achieve- 
ments proved piffle before the wind. 

Kiihlmann, in his account of the London negotiations, tries to 
make out that, while Arthur Nicolson and Crowe adhered to the 
Entente, Grey and Tyrrell were veering toward Germany and work- 
ing with him behind the backs of the other two. But there is evidence 
of the distrust which Grey felt of Kuhlmann, 28 and Kiihlmann 's 

25 See Documents Diplomatique* Frangais, 2nd series, vol. viii, p. 90, note 2. 

2 Thoughts on Germany, p. 78. 27 Ibid., p. 257. 

28 Mr, Alwyn Parker, who in 1912 on behalf of the Foreign Office negotiated 
with Kiihlmann about the Baghdad Railway, wrote in The Times Literary 
Supplement of 7 October 1949: 'Nobody in the Foreign Office had any illusions 



MEN WHO FLOUNDERED INTO THE WAR IQJ 

story of his close understanding and collaboration with Tyrrell seems 
about as accurate as of its inception in the Isle of Mull. Of Tyrrell 
I can speak from personal knowledge, having served under him in 
the Political Intelligence Department of the Foreign Office from 
April 1918 till May 1920; and I agree with the reviewer in The 
Times Literary Supplement that Kiihlmann 'seems never to have 
understood either the limitations of TyrrelPs influence or the mental 
reservations that may well have lain behind Tyrrell J s politeness': 
Tyrrell was neither 'the true director of British foreign policy', nor 
the man 'unreservedly to show his hand' to Kiihlmann. Complex, 
versatile, talkative, but exceedingly secretive, he was amiable, and 
even yielding on the surface, but a stubborn fighter underneath. He 
avoided, if he could, personal collisions, and professed a preference 
for 'long-range artillery' ; yet he disliked writing active and restless, 
he shunned the drudgery of office drafts, and, cultivating the laziness 
which Talleyrand enjoined on diplomats, was selective even in his 
reading of office files. 29 He was a contrast to that austere, somewhat 
rigid, tireless worker Eyre Crowe, one of the greatest Civil Servants 
this country ever had; but they were on the closest terms and never 
would Crowe have shown so much friendship to a pro-German 
within the Foreign Office. TyrrelFs curious, occasionally even impish, 
ways gave rise to doubts among some people; in reality he was a 
loyal friend who fought the battles of his chiefs, colleagues, and 
subordinates, often with complete disregard for his own person. Be- 
cause even after the Foreign Office files have been opened, it may 
be found difficult to ascertain Tyrrell 's views or actions, it is now 
incumbent on those who worked with him to defend him from 
Kiihlmann 's encomiums. 

As for the negotiations about the Portuguese colonies, these were 
not conducted by Tyrrell, then Principal Private Secretary to Grey 
(and as such not in charge of negotiations with foreign Governments 
independently of the relevant departments of the Foreign Office), 
but first by Harcourt and the Colonial Office, and next by Crowe for 
the Foreign Office. Further, after the agreement had been initialled 
on 20 October 1913, it remained unsigned because the British 

about Kiihlmann. Sir Edward Grey warned me to be careful, adding that he 
had rather a full measure of self-esteem and was very ddbrouillard, and not over- 
careful to bring his actions to the touchstone of the moral sense.' 

29 An administrative question concerning our department was once sub- 
mitted to Tyrrell in a long minute on the jacket of its file. Tyrrell, uninterested 
in the subject, initialled the minute unread. It was returned to him with the 
remark: 'This matter requires your decision.* Reply: 'I agree, W.T.* The deci- 
sion was then obtained orally, and the jacket of the file was changed. 



IO8 VANISHED SUPREMACIES 

Government insisted on publishing it together with the Anglo-Portu- 
guese Treaty of 1899, while Berlin objected, discerning a contradic- 
tion between the two. 'If that apparent perfidy of England against 
her old ally Portugal could trouble anyone/ writes Kiihlmann, 'it 
was the English, but it was hardly a concern of Germany'. Does 
Kiihlmann fail, or does he refuse, to understand that -publicity was 
to deprive the Anglo-German agreement of the very character which 
he meant to give it? 

While Kiihlmann boasts of having managed in the East (on the 
basis of 'self-determination') 'to carve out of the body politic of 
Russia' whatever territories were coveted by Germany, in the West 
he claims to have aimed at a peace 'without annexations', negotiated 
and not dictated; this, he says, he meant to attain through secret 
negotiations with London. The story of his official approaches is told, 
at some length, in Lloyd George's War Memoirs. His good faith 
was always in doubt, but the approach being made (in Balfour's 
words) 'through the orthodox channel of a neutral Foreign Office' 
(Spain), H.M. Government were prepared to deal with the matter 
in a proper understanding with their major Allies. But Kuhlmann's 
'No, never!' with regard to Alsace-Lorraine in his Reichstag speech 
of 9 October 1917 put an end to it. 

Now Kiihlmann in his memoirs has a story about peace 
approaches in which Tyrrell is made to appear as his opposite 
number. 

Certain signs seemed to me to warrant the assumption that Sir 
William Tyrrell thought a moderate peace settlement in the British 
interest,, presumably because he foresaw that a fight to the finish 
would produce an unsound French preponderance on the Continent. 

And next: 

Through a neutral personality I had entered into communication 
with my old political friend Sir William Tyrrell, and informed him 
that I could discuss peace only on the basis of territorial integrity for 
Germany and Austria-Hungary. . . . Tyrrell replied he was ready to 
start from that basis. 

Indeed, it requires a Kiihlmann to imagine, and to try to make 
others believe, that anyone in the Foreign Office could have, off his 
own bat, engaged in peace talks and Tyrrell, the friend of Grey 
and Asquith, had no personal connexion with Lloyd George. 

My immediate aim [Kiihlmann goes on to say] was to meet an 
English statesman for an informal talk at some Dutch castle in order 
30 Vol. iv, pp. 2081-107. 



MEN WHO FLOUNDERED INTO THE WAR IOQ 

to ascertain what possibilities there were of peace. German and 
British delegates were about to meet at The Hague to discuss an 
exchange of prisoners-of-war. This seemed to ine a good opportunity 
to establish at least a first contact. 

With this in view, Kiihlmann included in the German delegation 
Prince Hatzfeldt, son of a late German Ambassador to London, 
educated and subsequently resident in England. To this hint, claims 
Kiihlmann, 

the British duly responded . . . and Lord Newton led their delegation. 
Tyrrell must have taken special care in selecting it. At the end of 
the very first session, Hermann Hatzfeldt and Lord Newton remained 
behind. . . . Newton immediately started talking about a general 
peace, and Hatzfeldt, in accordance with his instructions, promptly 
entered into the subject. 

And once more Kiihlmann 's story can be proved to be rubbish 
from beginning to end. Since February 1916 Newton had been in 
charge of the Prisoners-of-War Department of the Foreign Office, 
and as such had been chief British delegate to the Anglo-German 
conference on prisoners-of-war at The Hague in June 1917, and to 
the Anglo-Turkish conference at Berne in December 1917: there 
would have been no need to select' him for it, and anyhow this 
would not have been within TyrrelPs competence. But in view of a 
bitter Press campaign which had preceded the Conference of June 
1918, Newton, for once, did not lead the British delegation. He 
writes in his diary under date of 31 May: 31 

Sent for by Bonar Law, who told me that it had been decided to 
send Gave, 32 myself and Belfield 33 as delegates to The Hague. The 
agitation had been so great that the Government had determined to 
send a Cabinet Minister and, according to Bonar Law, Cave had 
proposed himself. 

That Hatzfeldt would be on the German delegation the British only 
learnt at The Hague. Newton writes on 7 June: 

Vredenburch 34 says that the Germans are much exercised over 
Cave's appointment, and in order to be represented by a man of 
equal official rank have sent Prince Hermann Hatzfeldt., son of the 
former German Ambassador in London. 

31 See Lord Newton, Retrospection (1941), p. 256. 

82 Lord Cave, at that time Home Secretary. 

35 Major-General Belfield, Director of Prisoners-of-War Department, War 
Office. 

34 Jonkheer van Vredenburch, a Dutch diplomatist, was chairman of the 
conference. 



110 VANISHED SUPREMACIES 

And here is the story of the peace talks as they appear in Newton's 
diary: 

. . . although the work of our delegation had been to some extent dis- 
appointing. I had during our stay made a discovery that was at once 
important and unexpected, for we had not been there long when it 
came to my knowledge that the Germans were acutely, almost pas- 
sionately, anxious to enter upon peace negotiations. We had been 
directed to confine ourselves to our own immediate business, but if 
two parties are in constant close communication for about six weeks 
it is a practical certainty that each side will learn something about 
'the plans and intentions of the other. The information came to me as 
a complete surprise, for there was no indication of a German collapse. 
. . . The important fact was that the Germans obviously realized that 
they were going to lose the war, otherwise they would never have 
made any such approach. I determined to keep my information 
secret until I could cpnvey it personally to the Prime Minister. 

He did so on 25 July more than a fortnight after Kiihlmann's 
dismissal. Tyrrell is never mentioned. 

Nor is there any ground to suppose that Tyrrell favoured lenient 
peace terms for the Central Powers. At the Paris Peace Confer- 
ence, Crowe and he were in agreement with the French about 
Poland's western frontier. It was Lloyd George, supported by Philip 
Kerr and Headlam-Morley, who reduced Poland's acquisitions in 
Posnania, set up the Free City of Danzig, and conceded a plebiscite 
in Upper Silesia: while Tyrrell, in protest against such modifications, 
withdrew from the post of British representative on the Polish Com- 
mittee. Of these matters I can again speak from personal knowledge; 
and so I can of an earlier significant transaction, on the very eve of 
the Hague Conference. In May 1918 the Czechs asked the Western 
Powers to acknowledge the National Committee under Masaryk 
as a quasi-governmental representation. This was during the Luden- 
dorff offensive, and even some, not averse to Czechoslovak indepen- 
dence, doubted whether it was the time to assume new and far- 
reaching commitments. I myself was of those who thought that if a 
new Austerlitz was imminent, we had better unroll our future map 
of Europe, a sign of hope to nations engulfed by the German flood. 
Tyrrell knew this, and on 17 May, late in the afternoon, came to my 
room, carrying a pack of files; said that Benes was to see Balfour 
next morning; that there was disagreement concerning the line to be 
taken about the Czech request; and asked me to prepare from those 
files a short minute of our previous dealings with the Czechs, and a 
memorandum on further action. I do not know what use was made 



MEN WHO FLOUNDERED INTO THE WAR III 

of my paper which urged recognition of the Czechoslovak National 
Committee; but this was officially extended to them on 1 1 June, and 
the mere fact that Tyrrell had the matter put into my hands it was 
not usual for our Department to deal with current executive work- 
illustrates his own attitude towards the 'territorial integrity' of the 
Central Powers. In April 1918, Clemenceau said about Kiihlmann's 
Austrian colleague: 'Count Czernin has lied. 5 The same can now be 
said of Herr von Kiihlmann. 



X 

THE DOWNFALL OF THE 
HABSBURG MONARCHY 



A. THE POLITICAL STRUCTURE OF AUSTRIA- 
HUNGARY BEFORE THE WAR 

i. The Austrian 'Staatsidee*. During the First World War 'the idea 
of the Austrian State 5 (die osterreichische Staatsidee] was habitually 
appealed to by those who defended Austria-Hungary's existence. 
The concrete meaning of the term was never explained: it had none 
which its votaries would have cared to explain, and the Austrian 
State, to which it referred as conterminous with the Habsburg 
dominions, did not exist except in reminiscences of the past and 
pious hopes for the future. The Habsburg Monarchy consisted of 
two separate, sovereign States, Austria and Hungary, with Bosnia- 
Herzegovina held by them in common. Since 1867 Austria was that 
which remained of the amorphous mass of the Habsburg possessions, 
the 'home-farm' of the dynasty, after national States had arisen in 
Germany, Italy, and in certain aspects also in Hungary; for nearly 
fifty years (until 1916) this residuum, which in proportion to its size 
displayed more frontier and less coherence than any other State in 
Europe, went officially by the colourless designation of the King- 
doms and Provinces represented in the Reichsrat'. The name of 
Austria, currently given to them, was kept in reserve in the hope 
that some day it might once more cover all the dominions of the 
Habsburgs, des Hauses Oesteneich. The Austria of 1867 was re- 
garded by the Habsburgs as but a phase in the history of their 
dynastic power, their Hausmacht; for them there was nothing final 
about it, indeed they shunned finality every piece of driftwood 
carried to their shore was to them a promising sprig which might 
yet grow into a crown. Their outlying western possessions were gone y 

112 



THE DOWNFALL OF THE HABSBURG MONARCHY 113 

their age-long dreams of dominion over Germany and Italy were 
dead; their face was now to the east. Through Galicia and Dalmatia, 
Austria's fantastically shaped body, enveloping the massive block of 
Hungary, stretched out its arms towards Poland, the Ukraine, 
Rumania, and Serbia, which all found their place in the war- 
dreams and schemings of the Habsburg dynasty. The Habsburgs 
were the one dynasty which had never linked up its fate with that 
of any single nation; they had a capital and a territorial base but 
no nationality; they developed schemes territorially coherent though 
devoid of all national idea. Their instincts were purely proprietary, 
the one meaning of an Austrian State to them was that they pos- 
sessed it; to the outside world, that it existed. For the few, and mostly 
interested, exponents of an Austrian State, its continued existence 
was an aim in itself; and this was the core of the alleged Austrian 
Staatsidee. But it was by no means this exceedingly frail basis which 
sustained Austria-Hungary's continued existence. 

2. The Partnership of the Germans, Magyars, and Poles. There 
was more shape and sense in the remaining Habsburg dominions 
than appeared on the surface and more than the Habsburg Idea 
recognized; there was less justice to the subject nationalities than the 
dynasty could have admitted. Although inhabited by eight, and, 
counting sub-divisions, even by eleven peoples, the territory of the 
Habsburg Monarchy was completely covered by the historic, 
imperialist claims of three nationalities the claim of the Magyars 
to the lands of the Crown of St. Stephen, of the Germans to Western 
Austria, 1 and of the Poles to Galicia; each claim was tenaciously 
asserted, though, unless statistical forgeries were committed and 
unless the Jews were included, none of the three nationalities formed 
a majority in the territory it claimed. If conceded dominion, the 
master-nations were ready to defend every inch of the Monarchy 
against the national claims of its neighbours, the co-racials of the 
subject nationalities the Southern Tyrol and Trieste against Italy, 
the Illyrian provinces against Serbia, East Galicia against Russia, 
Translyvania against Rumania; whereas the subject nationalities, if 
conceded national self-government, would naturally have bethought 
themselves next of national reunion. The Germans and Poles in 
Austria, and the Magyars in Hungary, in their own interest, not 

1 'Western Austria' is here meant to denote the western hereditary provinces 
which had been under the Habsburgs since 1526, had been included in the 
Holy Roman Empire and then in the Germanic Confederation of 1815, and 
lay within the orbit of German settlement, influence, and ambitions. It excludes 
the outlying provinces in the east and south-east, acquisitions of the late 
eighteenth century: Galicia, the Bukovina, and Dalmatia. 



U4 VANISHED SUPREMACIES 

from any attachment to the dynasty, had to become the 'State- 
preserving elements' (die staatserhaltenden Element e). 

In turn the Habsburgs, for reasons of internal as well as of inter- 
national policy, had no choice but to base their rule on the 
supremacy of the Magyars in Hungary, and of the Germans and 
Poles in Austria. This had its roots in history and was opposed to the 
national principle like the Habsburg Monarchy. It rested on past 
empire and on consequent social superiority, and was therefore con- 
servative, as was the Monarchy which lived by survival alone. The 
upper classes were Magyar throughout Hungary, Polish throughout 
Galicia; in Western Austria even in 1914 they still remained pre- 
dominantly German. The choice between nationalities implied 
therefore a choice between classes a medieval, clerical dynasty 
does not lead social revolutions, nor impose the rule of peasants on 
their landlords. Lastly, the German-Magyar combination alone 
could supply the Habsburgs with a suitable foreign alliance to safe- 
guard their possessions against a coalition of the neighbouring States, 
each of which saw national territory of its own included in their 
Monarchy. The Germans within Austria were sufficiently strong to 
permeate the State and thus to accept dominion in lieu of complete 
national reunion; Germany alone seemed sufficiently powerful to 
preserve Austria-Hungary's existence and sufficiently concerned in 
it to attempt doing so; and lastly, Germany had no interests con- 
flicting with those of Austria-Hungary in the Adriatic and the 
Balkans, which now became the main sphere of Habsburg ambi- 
tions. Hence the German alliance. The logical result of that alliance 
upon the internal affaire of the Habsburg Monarchy was once more 
the predominance of the Magyars in Hungary and of the Germans 
(with their indispensable associates, the Poles) in Austria. No one 
had chosen his partners, no deeper sympathy bound either the Poles 
or the Magyars to the Germans in fact, when necessary, they could 
plead strong dislike of one another and few statesmen except Bis- 
marck, Julius Andrdssy the elder, and Stephen Tisza seem to have 
understood and accepted all the implications of the system. It had 
been imposed on the contracting parties by the inherent necessities 
of their political situation and by the logic of events. Its intricacies 
no human mind could have thought out, nor any human skill re- 
adjusted; and its inherent force was so great that it survived to the 
very end, till October 1918. 

In 1848, when the national and constitutional movement among 
the gentry and bourgeoisie found expression in revolt against the 
non-national, proprietary character of the Monarchy, the dynasty 



THE DOWNFALL OF THE HABSBURG MONARCHY 115 

appealed to the subject peasant-races, the Czecho-Slovaks, the Yugo- 
slavs, Ruthenes, 2 and Rumans, for help against their masters, the 
Germans, Magyars, and Poles. In 1867 the Habsburgs surrendered 
their late supporters to their late opponents. Reconciled to the most 
powerful and most articulate of their subjects, they proposed to 
resume the struggle against their hereditary enemy, Prussia. A 
German-Magyar veto prevented them from doing so in 1870. In 
1879 tne alliance with Prussia-Germany was concluded. The ideas 
of separation from Germany and of reform within the Habsburg 
Monarchy, which arose once more in the later stages of the War 
and waxed under threat of defeat, were froth and bubble, and the 
last desperate attempts of October 1918 bore no more resemblance 
to action based on a political system than mad antics do to the 
movement of swimming. The political developments of Austria- 
Hungary obeyed the necessities of its internal structure; illusions 
there were of dynastic power to shape them in reality these devel- 
opments were pre-determined as the movements of the stars, and 
subject to iron laws. 

It had not been within the power of the Habsburgs and their 
centralist followers to jefuse the claims of the Germans, Magyars, 
and Poles; as far as Austria was concerned, it had been within 
their power, and to their interest, to prevent the complete establish- 
ment of the system. Its full logical development would have left the 
Habsburgs stripped of all authority, without a 'home-farm 5 , with an 
exceedingly limited base for dynastic .schemings, with very little 
scope for an independent foreign policy, bound hand and foot to 
the three dominant nationalities. They would have changed into 
shadowy suzerains of excessively powerful subjects, the real masters 
of their possessions; in short, the Habsburgs would have been 
reduced to the position of constitutional monarchs in three States, 
each based on the artificially secured rule of a dominant minority. 
It was in opposition to the complete establishment of a system of 
which the principle had to be admitted if the Habsburg Monarchy 
was to be held together, that the interest of the dynasty coincided 
with that of the submerged nationalities. Cautiously, and as far as 
Hungary was concerned in a purely Platonic fashion, the Habsburgs 
sympathized with the outraged national rights of races whom they 

2 The Little Russians in the late Austro-Hungarian territories were known 
by the name of 'Ruthenes', though identical in language and race with the 
Little Russians of Southern Russia. Those among them who claimed to form a 
nation distinct from the Great Russians, to avoid all resemblance, adopted the 
name of 'Ukrainians'. Thus they have come to be known by three inter- 
changeable names. 



Il6 VANISHED SUPREMACIES 

themselves, in their own dynastic interest, had surrendered to the 
master-nations. This was the outstanding peculiarity of the Habs- 
burg system, the only concrete meaning of the so-called Austrian 
Staatsidee. 

3. The Magyar System. In 1867 Hungary had crystallized once 
more into the imperialist domain of the Magyars and was, in its 
constitution, completely separated from the remaining Habsburg 
heritage, the Austrian Hereditary Provinces. The frontier drawn 
between Austria and Hungary cut across the lands minorum gen- 
tium, of 'the minor nations', the Czecho-Slovaks, the Yugoslavs, the 
Ruthenes, and the Rumans, whose national territories were thus par- 
titioned even within the borders of the Habsburg possessions, an 
obvious fact which during the War was only too often overlooked 
or deliberately left out of count when internal reform and national 
autonomy within the Habsburg Monarchy were discussed. By form- 
ing Croatia into a separate, though absolutely dependent, State, the 
Magyars had secured for themselves a majority in Hungary proper, 
and by means of a narrow class franchise in a country where the 
upper classes were Magyar or Magyarized, they had given an almost 
exclusively Magyar character to their Parliament. This was an 
artificially constructed and delicately balanced system which did not 
admit of any radical changes within Hungary nor of a material 
extension of its borders; strongly conscious of this fact, Stephen Tisza 
was a bitter opponent of democratic reform at home and of any 
appreciable increase of territory at the expense of Serbia or 
Rumania. Hungary was not to be used or manipulated in the Habs- 
burg interest; it was neither to be enlarged nor reduced. There were 
no Magyars outside Hungary's frontiers, and within they were to be 
dominant. They held the most convenient strategic frontiers, the 
Carpathian arc and the Transylvanian mountain-bastion, and had 
access to the sea. Hungary was complete. 

The Magyars would have gladly seen the Germans and Poles 
attain the same position in Western Austria and in Galicia, which 
they themselves held in Hungary. It was not to their interest that in 
Austria the subject races should remain in immediate touch with the 
dynasty, and enjoy more favourable treatment than in Hungary, nor 
that the dynastic power of the Habsburgs should survive anywhere, 
and threaten with the help of the subject races once more to include 
or engulf the Magyar domain in the amorphous mass of the Habs- 
burg possessions. In September 1866 Count Julius Andrassy the 
elder emphatically declared to the Austrian Minister Hiibner that 
the Magyars 'could not suffer a federalist system to be established in 



THE DOWNFALL OF THE HABSBURG MONARCHY Iiy 

Austria, a probable centre for future attacks against Hungary'. Had 
full self-government been conceded within Austria such a system 
would have affected the nationalities oppressed in Hungary; the 
Magyars would have had to break off aU connexion with Austria 
and the Habsburgs for every surviving link and all reminiscences 
of a common past would have kept suggesting to the subject races of 
Hungary that through a reunion in a dynastic Habsburg State lay 
the road to national self-government. But as changes in the Austrian 
constitution required a two-thirds majority, and such a majority 
could not have been obtained in the Reichsrat against the German 
vote, federalist devolution could have been introduced by means of 
a dynastic coup d'etat alone. In the Agreement of 1867 the Magyars 
therefore stipulated that the connexion between the two States was 
to continue only so long as both were governed in a constitutional 
manner. They thus reserved for themselves the power of vetoing any 
unconstitutional act even with regard to exclusively Austrian affairs 
but they naturally never protested when the Austrian constitution 
was infringed to the disadvantage of the subject races. 

The Magyars desired Austria to be centralized, and its centralism 
to bear a distinct German character. But with Galicia as an integral 
part of Austria, the Austrian State was ill poised. It would therefore 
have been to the interest of the Austrian Germans, as well as of the 
Polish and the Magyar oligarchs, had a separate constitutional status 
been conceded to Galicia. The exclusion of the Galician members 
from the Austrian Reichsrat would have given a decisive majority to 
the Germans over the Czechs, Yugoslavs, and Italians, while the 
Poles would have been left to deal with the Ruthenes in the Galician 
Diet, where, by means of electoral devices, they had secured for 
themselves a majority almost as good as that of the Magyars in the 
Hungarian Parliament. As long as within Austria no single nation- 
ality had a decisive, permanent superiority over its opponents, the 
Habsburgs were able to preserve their dynastic power, without the 
strictly constitutional Magyar system of government being repro- 
produced against them. Although they never seriously questioned 
the predominance of the Germans and Poles over the subject races, 
they used the contending nationalities as checks on each other. They 
could do so the more easily as they invariably had the support of the 
German clericals and of the Poles. Nationality was not the domi- 
nant, or at least not the exclusive, political instinct and interest of 
the German clericals, while the Poles had to think of the wider, 
international aspects of the Polish question and could not consider a 
settlement within the narrow frontiers of Galicia, which formed one 



Il8 VANISHED SUPREMACIES 

province only of Poland, as anything but temporary. Neither for the 
German clericals nor for the Poles was there finality in the frontiers 
of Austria, as there was for the Magyars in those of Hungary, and 
neither therefore felt the same overwhelming interest in the complete 
and definite establishment of the triple Magyar-German-Polish 
scheme. 

4. Austrian Centralism and German Nationalism. In the central, 
purely German districts of Austria national feeling had never com- 
pletely divested itself of an Austrian imprint; it oscillated between 
the German national idea on the one hand and a peculiar Austrian 
sentiment on the other. In the Czech provinces of Bohemia, Moravia, 
and Silesia, bordering on Saxony and Prussia, the German minority 
developed an uncompromising nationalism, neither softened nor 
clouded by religious sentiment; so also, to some extent, in the 
southern Slovene borderlands. But in the centre, especially in 
Vienna, the population felt too closely associated with the Habs- 
burgs in their power, and its profits and glory, to adopt the purely 
German point of view. The phantoms of the medieval Roman 
Empire, of the non-national world-idea centring in Imperial Vienna, 
surrounded the throne of the Habsburgsz'ir vivaient de fombre 
dune ombre . . . For the devout peasantry of the Alpine provinces 
and for the Vienna petty middle class, Roman Catholicism was a 
further link with the dynasty, and even with the clericals of other 
nations, Czech, Slovene, or Italian. The intransigent German nation- 
alists turned their backs upon Hungary and Galicia in order to con- 
centrate on the Czech and Slovene provinces, in which they were 
directly concerned through their German minorities. The Great- 
Austrians could not be indifferent to any part of the Habsburg 
dominions, their old inheritance, and upheld the conception of the 
Gesammtmonarchie (a State embracing them all) with even more 
fervour than the dynasty itself. But while German nationalism and 
Austrian imperialism were clearly distinct in theory and in the minds 
of their most extreme exponents, they blended in the middle ranges, 
and most Austrian Germans were something of the one and some- 
thing of the other. Austrian imperialism with Vienna for centre was 
German in its essence, and the Germans were in Austria the most 
important centripetal force. 

The idea of the Gesammtmonarchie was a direct negation of the 
Magyar scheme. 'As long as a Magyar is left alive he will not allow 
his nation to be forced under such a superior State organization,' 
declared Count Tisza on i January 1916. The centralist Austrian 
'patriotism' was agreeable to the Magyars, but only if enclosed 



THE DOWNFALL OF THE HABSBURG MONARCHY Iig 

within the frontiers of the western half of the Monarchy, i.e. while 
directed against Czech and Yugoslav national ambitions. I con- 
sider this feeling to be as sacred as our own patriotism/ Tisza went 
on to say in his exposition of the Magyar creed. 'I sympathize with 
it and value it, provided it does not turn against the independence of 
the Hungarian nation. ... It is in our own interest to strengthen 

over there the centripetal as against the centrifugal forces Before 

now the Magyar nation has tried to fulfil its mission, to promote and 

strengthen the centripetal forces in Austria And if in the past it 

did not achieve full success, this was because Austrian patriotism 
had not been able to divest itself of the old tendencies in favour of 

a Monarchy including all the Habsburg dominions ' Tisza spoke 

of an Austrian patriotism; he meant it. The Magyars wanted 
Austria, but not too much of it. They wanted it to be German, but 
not too German. It was to be sufficiently German to prevent the 
nationalities which were kept under in Hungary from forming 
national States across Hungary's border, but not so German as to 
lead to a fusion of Austria with Germany, The weaker Austrian 
partner would then have been replaced by an overwhelmingly, in- 
deed dangerously, superior German neighbour, and the Magyar 
system in international politics, a marvellous machine which through 
a multitude of wheels and levers made one of the smallest nations in 
Europe into a Great Power, would have broken down. 'A proper 
centralization of Austria will secure the State against excessive Ger- 
manism (Deutschtumelei) on the part of the Germans by their being 
mixed up with the Slavs, while the Slavs will be prevented by the 
Germans from following out a centrifugal policy,' explained the elder 
Andrassy to the Emperor Francis Joseph I in July 1866. The aim^of 
German nationalism was Great-Germanycomprising all territories 
of the former Germanic Confederation even Mittel-Europa; the 
logical expression of 'Austrian' patriotism was Great-Austria die 
Gesammtmonarchie. The Magyars wanted neither. For them, and 
them alone, the Dual Monarchy, as they had constructed it in 1867, 
was final. 

The Austrian federalist schemes of 1860-73 were based on the 
historic provinces into which Austria was divided. There were seven- 
teen of these, differing widely in size and population e.g. Galicia 
had 22,000 square miles and, in 1910, 8,000,000 inhabitants, Salz- 
burg 2,000 square miles and 200,000 inhabitants. Only some of the 
small German mountain provinces were nationally homogeneous. 
All the rest had their national minorities and their national prob- 
lems. Whereas in the Austrian Reichsrat and government the Ger- 



I2O VANISHED SUPREMACIES 

mans were practically dominant, there were Slav majorities and 
German minorities in Bohemia, Moravia, and Carniola; on the 
Adriatic coast there were pactically no Germans. Complete central- 
ization in the Austrian Reichsrat alone could save the Germans in 
the Slav provinces from becoming minorities subject to non-German 
rule, and to achieve this was for the German Nationalists the pur- 
pose of Austria's existence. But again the particular interests of the 
German clericals produced divergences within the German camp. 
To the clericals, who were strongly entrenched in several of the 
Alpine Diets, provincial autonomy safeguarded their interests against 
a possible or actual anti-clerical majority in the Vienna Parliament. 
This was a further obstacle to German centralism in Austria. 

5. The Poles and the Habsburgs. The Austrian Poles were neither 
federalists nor centralists, merely Habsburgites. They had been 
federalists at times, but half-heartedly; they did not really wish for 
an increase in the power and independence of the pro-Russian 
Czechs and Yugoslavs. They could not be centralists as long as 
Galicia remained an Austrian province. For themselves they de- 
manded from Austria national liberty and dominion over the 
Ruthenes of East Galicia; on every other point they were prepared 
to compromise. They were willing to co-operate with the dynasty 
because they counted on Habsburg support in the reconstruction of 
Poland. While Russia in partitioning Poland had aimed at re- 
establishing her own national unity (White Russia and the Western 
Ukraine) and Prussia at consolidating her eastern frontier (West 
Prussia and Posnania), Austria had merely demanded her pound of 
flesh as counterpoise to the acquisitions of her neighbours. The same 
reasons which had moved the other two Powere to partition Poland 
maintained their opposition to its reconstruction ; the Habsburgs were 
prepared to give up their pound of flesh provided they could get the 
entire man. Hostility to Prussia and Russia, and the common 
Roman Catholic religion, were bonds between the Poles and the 
Habsburgs, even before the agreement on the basis of Galician auto- 
nomy was reached; that agreement was the logical outcome of a 
community of interests. The idea of an 'Austro-Polish solution' can 
be traced back to 1794, 1809, and 1830; after 1848, and still more 
after 1867, the belief in 'Austria's historic mission' with regard to 
Poland became a fundamental article of the Polish creed in Galicia. 
Reluctantly the Poles accepted even the German alliance as neces- 
sary for safeguarding Austria and of course also their dominion over 
the Little Russian territory of East Galicia against Russia. Their 
anti-Russian and generally anti-Slav policy continued to bind them 



THE DOWNFALL OF THE HABSBURG MONARCHY 121 

to the Habsburgs and Magyars. It was not an accident that M. de 
Bilinski, one of the chief leaders of the Galician Poles and Minister 
for Bosnia-Herzegovina in 1914, was one of the main authors of the 
ultimatum to Serbia which fact did not prevent him in 1919 from 
attaining Cabinet rank in the reconstituted Poland. 

6. The Yugoslav Problem. One stone in the structure of the Habs- 
burg Monarchy was very loose Bosnia-Herzegovina, acquired in 
1878 for dynastic reasons, not coveted then either by the Austrian 
Germans or the Magyars. Yugoslav throughout in nationality, 
though partly Moslem in religion, and surrounded by Yugoslav ter- 
ritory by Croatia, a nominally self-governing kingdom under the 
Hungarian Crown, by Dalrnatia, an Austrian province nowhere 
bordering on Austria, and by the independent Yugoslav kingdoms 
of Serbia and Montenegro Bosnia-Herzegovina had no political 
connexion with any of them but remained under the joint Austro- 
Hungarian government, which itself was not a government but a 
contractual formation based on the Agreement of 1867. The Austrian 
Prime Minister, Baron Hussarek, in his speech of i October 1918, 
described Bosnia-Herzegovina as ein staatsrechtlich undefinierbares 
Neutrum. 3 The dynasty would have willingly accepted a union of all 
Yugoslav territory provided it was effected under their sceptre. The 
Austrian Germans would not allow the Slovene territories, their sea- 
coast, to be detached from Western Austria, but would probably 
have agreed to a Serbo-Croat State or at least to a great Croatia 
consisting of Croatia, Dalmatia, and Bosnia-Herzegovina. But as 
such a union of Yugoslav territories would have changed the balance 
within Hungary and the Habsburg Monarchy to the disadvantage 
of the Magyars, these naturally objected, and there was no way of 
fitting the Yugoslav stones into the structure of the Habsburg 
Monarchy. For various reasons the other national problems of the 
Habsburg Monarchy were internationally more or less dormant 
during the years preceding the outbreak of the War. The unsolved 
Yugoslav question opened up the problem of Austria-Hungary's 
existence and brought on the War. 

The War in which Russia and Germany opposed each other 
unrolled the Polish Question which could not have been reopened 
in any other way, and the Polish Question raised all the other prob- 
lems of Austria-Hungary's inner structure. Austria-Hungary, as it 
existed from 1867 till 1914, the creation of Magyar statesmanship, 
fully and finally satisfied none but the Magyars; on everybody else, 

3 *A nondescript creation, which cannot be defined in terms of political 
science.* 



122 VANISHED SUPREMACIES 

not excluding even the dynasty, the Austrian centralists, and the 
German Nationalists, it imposed sacrifices and renunciations, offer- 
ing them merely half-solutions and a modus vivendi. The War and 
the possibility, nay the certainty, of change unhinged at one blow 
the delicate system of compromises and balances, and liberated 
wildly divergent desires and forces. 'Great' Austria, Great' Ger- 
many, a reunited Poland threatened to destroy the balance and 
nature of the Dual System; the national ambitions of the subject 
races threatened to destroy the very existence of the Habsburg Mon- 
archy and the 'integrity of Hungary'. Whichever side was to prove 
victorious, the Austria-Hungary of pre-War days was dead, and 
everything was once more unsettled. 



B. AUSTRIA-HUNGARY IN THE WAR 

7, The Austrian Solution of the Polish Question. On the outbreak 
of war the Galician Poles declared for a union of Galicia and Russian 
Poland under the Habsburgs as a third component part of the 
Monarchy; this, the so-called 'Austrian Solution of the Polish Ques- 
tion', was the first suggestion for a recasting of the Habsburg Mon- 
archy. The Habsburgs would have welcomed it as implying new 
acquisitions, the German Nationalists as crystallizing their domain in 
Western Austria, most of the Magyars as a consummation of the 
triple German-Magyar-Polish scheme. Tisza resisted. Alone in his 
generation he had a perfect understanding of Austria-Hungary's 
political mechanism. Under the Dual System the virile Magyar 
oligarchs had realized independence, i.e. predominance over an 
internally divided and paralysed Austria, Gould they be certain of 
maintaining it in a 'triangle'? 'A political structure of the Monarchy 
which would make it possible for Hungary to be out-voted on 
essential problems of State, and therefore subject to an alien will, 
would nullify our achievements,' wrote Count Tisza to Count 
Czernin on 22 February 1917. Similarly Germany was loath to 
accept a union of Austrian and Russian Poland, which, leaving 
Prussian Poland the only unredeemed Polish territory, would have 
given an anti-German front to the Polish State, the new partner in 
the Habsburg Monarchy. Tisza's scheme was to join Russian Poland 
to Austria externally as a self-governing kingdom, while Galicia 
remained an integral part of the Austrian Empire; the German 
scheme was to form it into a nominally independent kingdom under 
Germany. Both were clearly unacceptable to Austria; among the 



THE DOWNFALL OF THE HABSBURG MONARCHY 1123 

Austrian Poles either solution would have produced a desire for 
union with the new Poland, which, if unsatisfied, would have made 
them join forces with the Slav opposition in the Reichsrat, creating 
there a permanent majority in opposition to the Austrian State. A 
complete deadlock was thus reached over the Polish Question. 

8. The Habsburg Monarchy and Mittel-Europa. The deadlock 
delayed Austria's internal reconstruction; building operations could 
not begin on undefined ground, although the plans were complete. A 
political consolidation had been effected between the Austrian Ger- 
mans who were primarily Austrians and those who were primarily 
Germans. Axiomatic truths about Austria-Hungary, hitherto 
obscured by surface contradictions, were revealed in practice. Ger- 
many in her own interest safeguarded the existence of the Habsburg 
Monarchy: the fight for it was a German national war. But the races 
opposed to German-Magyar rule became the enemies of the Habs- 
burg Monarchy. Experience had taught them that cultural liberties 
without national independence meant the right to develop nation- 
ality coupled with the duty to ignore it in wars brought about by the 
dominant races. The logic of events forced on the subject races a 
program of complete independence, tantamount to the break-up 
of the Habsburg Monarchy. The Austrian imperialists who, non- 
national as they were in their ideas, would have preferred to build 
on a wider rather than an exclusively German basis, were in their 
turn forced into an attitude and policy towards the subject races 
hardly differing from that of the German Nationalists. 

On the other hand, the War proved Austria-Hungary's value to 
Germany. The Habsburg Monarchy, which to short-sighted Pan- 
Germans (not to Bismarck) had seemed a cumbercome survival im- 
peding the road to a reunion of the entire German nation, proved 
to be the most valuable asset for Mittel-Europa and the German 
World-Empire. Even extreme Pan-Germans in Austria became con- 
verted to the Habsburg Monarchy. There was now a platform com- 
mon to all the Austrian Germans Austria was to be maintained, 
reconstructed on a German basis, and firmly fitted into the Ger- 
manic system ; her policy was to be subordinated to that of Central 
Europe, and the entire Habsburg inheritance was to be taken over 
and secured by the strength of the reunited German nation. Through 
Mittel-Europa the Austrian Germans returned both to the Pan- 
German and to the Great-Austrian idea, now reconciled with each 
other. They beheld themselves once more an integral part of the 
German nation, and as part of it resumed an imperialism too wide 
for them in their previous isolation. 



124 VANISHED SUPREMACIES 

The Polish program of a union of Austrian and Russian Poland 
threatened to change the balance within the Habsburg Monarchy; 
the German program of Central European Union, to destroy its 
independence. Either would have marked the end of Austria- 
Hungary, the Dual Monarchy within the frontiers of 1867. The 
structural concept of Austria-Hungary was broken down by the races 
dominant in Austria three years before defeat, and the action of the 
subject races razed the building and obliterated its foundations. 

Naturally the Habsburgs did not relish the idea of being perma- 
nently reduced to a dependent position within the Central European 
Union. Nor was Tisza prepared to admit a union infringing Hun- 
gary's sovereignty and independence. The domain of the Magyars 
In Hungary was to remain intact; Austria was to remain common 
yet neutral ground between Germany and the Magyars. If a Central 
European bloc was to be formed this too was to rest on a dual basis. 
The European and trans-European West might pass under German 
leadership, but the 'Turanian 3 East Bulgaria, Turkey, etc. was 
to pass under that of the Magyars. Mittel-Europa, like Austria, was 
to stop at the western frontier of Hungary; this was the Magyar 
conception of it. The 9,000,000 Magyars were to stand back to 
back with the 80,000,000 Germans, not to obey them. Tisza was a 
bold, silent man. He worked for aims which possibly a sense of pro- 
portion did not allow him to avow. 

9. Schemes for Reconstruction in 1915. In the summer of 1915 
the armies of the Central Powers had occupied Russian Poland. 
A declaration of policy seemed urgently needed. Count Julius 
Andrassy, a bitter personal and political enemy of Tisza, opened a 
campaign in favour of the 'Austrian solution'. Towards the end of 
the year, when the tide of Mittel-Europa propaganda rose rapidly, 
Andrassy linked up the two ideas in one scheme of compromise all 
round. The Habsburgs were to waive their dynastic pride by accept- 
ing a subordinate place in Mitt el-Euro pa, and in exchange receive 
the Polish Crown. The Poles were to be conceded this, the widest 
measure of national reunion compatible with the German Alliance. 
The Austrian Germans were to attain dominion in Austria and Ger- 
man reunion in Mittel-Europa, In the complete discomfiture of the 
subject races of Western Austria and Galicia and in the establish- 
ment of the Central European bloc as the dominant Power in 
Europe, the Magyars were to find full safeguards for the integrity of 
Hungary and against any effective revival of Slav schemes from 
within or without the Monarchy. Tisza maintained a cold refusal. 
When on Easter Sunday, 23 April 1916, Andrassy once more de- 



THE DOWNFALL OF THE HABSBURG MONARCHY 125 

veloped his pet scheme in the Vienna Neue Freie Presse and in the 
Frankfurter Zeitung, Tisza's paper, the Budapesti Hirlap, published 
two articles, one declaring Magyar desinteressement in the Polish 
Question ( If we started discussing the Polish Question we should 
only be talking about other people's possessions and interfering with 
other people's business 5 .), the other bitterly protesting against Ger- 
man economic activities in Hungary, though the closest economic 
union was to have been the essence of the Central European scheme. 
10. Rifts in the Monarchy. Serbia was not to be annexed because 
the Magyars did not want any more Yugoslav territory; Rumania 
could not be placated because the Magyars would not cede an inch 
of Transylvanian territory; the Austrian-Polish scheme was to be 
dropped, because the Magyars through Tisza insisted on preserv- 
ing the Dual System; complete Central European Union was not to 
be, because the Magyars refused to submit to any superior political 
organization. The Habsburg Monarchy was not to be remodelled, 
enlarged, or even saved if a sacrifice were required of Hungary's 
integrity or sovereignty. And this list of prohibitions was enforced 
by a Premier who had neither his country's foreign policy nor its 
army under his direct control, 4 since the Ministers for Foreign Affairs 
and War and the Supreme Army Command were common to both 
States of the Monarchy and had their offices and headquarters in 
Austria, not in Hungary. The Austrian patriots at the Vienna Court 
and in the army bitterly resented the 'Magyar egoism' and fretted 
at its dictation. The Magyars, on the other hand, now fully realized 
the dangers which in case of victory would arise from their troops 
being mixed up with those of Austria under a command hostile to 
the separatist Magyar doctrines about Hungary's sovereignty and 
independence. But if Austria, owing to the wretched ineptitude of 
her rulers, were to break up or be permanently subordinated to Ger- 
many, the Magyars did not want Hungary to be involved in her 
fate. Lifelong champions of the Agreement of 1867, such as Tisza 
and Wekerle, became converted to the demand for a separate Hun- 
garian army. 'The great task of completing the structure of the 
Hungarian National State' mentioned in the Royal Rescript of 
6 May 1918, covered among others a promise of a Hungarian 
national army to be established after the War. Even on the Magyar 
side rifts appeared in the structure of 1867. 

4 During the war, however, Tisza established a certain control over Austria- 
Hungary's foreign policy; all wires and despatches received had to be com- 
municated to him immediately, and he demanded that no^ important notes 
should be sent off until he had had time to give his opinion on them (cf. 
Czernin's In the World War, pp. 128-9 and 134). 



126 VANISHED SUPREMACIES 

The Polish understanding with Austria was with the dynasty and 
the German Nationalists rather than with the Austrian centralists, 
the high Vienna bureaucracy, and Supreme Army Command. The 
ex-officio partners of the Habsburgs were jealous of any Habsburg 
territories not subject also to their authority. When in the War the 
Supreme Army Command obtained exceptionally wide powers the 
Austrian Poles suddenly beheld the face of the centralists which they 
had not seen since 1867. The dynasty solicited Polish support for the 
Austrian Solution, but Polish volunteers from Russia, invalided 
while fighting in the Austrian Polish Legions, were interned as alien 
enemies by the Austro-Hungarian Higher Command. Austrian- 
German governors were appointed to Galicia, the Galician railways 
were militarized and Germanized, and, to the joy of the subject 
Ruthenes, who were nearly as numerous in Galicia as the Poles, the 
established Polish character of the Galician administration was 
ignored. Everything was done to teach the Poles that Austrian gen- 
erals and bureaucrats had no use for unwritten conventions. Some- 
times it almost looked as if they took their revenge for having been 
so long excluded from Galicia. On the high level of international 
politics the Austro-Polish leaders continued to spin their intrigues 
with the Vienna Court, but the feeling which all the Polish parties 
of Galicia had evinced for the Austrian cause at their meeting at 
Cracow on 16 August 1914 was vanishing fast. This was true even 
of the unpolitical popular masses. In 1914 a stream of refugees 
poured into Vienna from the Galician theatre of war; they were 
treated as burdensome, undesirable aliens. In 1915 most of Galicia 
was recovered by Austria-Hungary, but the Vienna Government 
refused to spend money on its reconstruction. There was none of the 
warm sentiment which the Germans displayed towards the war- 
stricken districts of East Prussia. Austria and Galicia were strangers 
to each other, and this was brought home to every one by the War. 
Yet another rift was opening in the structure of Austria-Hungary. 

Before the War a very large part of Austria's food supply was 
derived from Hungary; for years the industrial population of 
Western Austria had paid inflated prices because of the high 
protective duties on food established for the benefit of Magyar 
landowners. When the food shortage arose during the War, Hun- 
gary closed the frontier against Austria, supplying but ridiculously 
small quantities of food to her starving population. We can forgive 
the hunger blockade instituted by our enemies, never that by the 
Magyars,' declared a leader of the Austrian-German Socialists at 
the conclusion of the War. It taught the German-Austrian enthu- 



THE DOWNFALL OF THE HABSBURG MONARCHY 127 

siasts of the Habsburg Monarchy to ponder over the hyphen in 
Austria-Hungary. 'Economic partnership did in practice mean the 
starvation of Austria,' wrote the Vienna Arbeiter-Zeitung on 
17 October 1918, the day after the Magyars had declared Hungary's 
separation from Austria. c . . . We part from them with a light 
heart.' 

The three dominant races of the Habsburg Monarchy, the 
Magyars in Hungary, and the Germans and Poles in Austria, while 
unable to develop a common program for the future, were losing the 
instincts of a common political existence within the Habsburg Mon- 
archy. Even in their unpolitical masses everyday experience sapped 
the sense of community in the Monarchy, while whatever had re- 
mained of a feeling of citizenship in the subject races, the Czecho- 
slovaks, Yugoslavs, Ruthenes, Italians, and Rumans, was com- 
pletely eradicated by mass executions, imprisonments, internments, 
petty persecutions, constant chicanery in short, by a regime which 
made them look upon the Habsburg rule as a hostile military occu- 
pation. 

ii. ig 1 6. A year of political exuberance had followed in Austria 
on the collapse of Russia and Serbia in 1915. It closed with the 
Lutsk disaster, a repetition of the initial defeats in Galicia and Serbia 
which Austria-Hungary's rulers had too easily forgotten in the noise 
of victories gained for them by the Germans. No positive results had 
been reached in the discussions concerning Poland, Austria's internal 
reconstruction, and Central European Union when they were cut 
short by General BrussilofFs offensive. Merely the difficulties of 
remodelling the Habsburg Monarchy in case of victory had been 
revealed. The Russian successes in 1916 having once more rendered 
Austria-Hungary absolutely dependent on Germany, the German 
scheme with regard to Poland was proclaimed on 5 November 1916 
in the declaration of the two Emperors, setting up Russian Poland 
as a State separate from Germany and Austria alike. Austria- 
Hungary's rulers, humiliated in the field, war-weary to the last degree, 
with their ambitions disappointed even in the days of victory, with 
the economic resources of their countries exhausted, their military 
reserves utterly depleted, would have gladly accepted the status quo 
ante helium. The Magyars had always deprecated any change 
in Austria-Hungary's frontiers, the Habsburgs and their followers 
wished for it no longer. Their Monarchy, saved by German arms, 
was to be preserved by disarmament and a new Holy Alliance. Once 
more they were converts to pacifism. 

Still, a complete return to pre-War conditions was impossible, and 



128 VANISHED SUPREMACIES 

at least a partial realization of the ideas of 1915 seemed necessary. 
Simultaneously with the proclamation of a Polish State in Russian 
Poland, very wide autonomy was promised to the Galician Poles, 
although it was obvious that an autonomous Galicia could not have 
existed alongside of the Polish kingdom, and that sooner or later the 
two would have been united either within or outside the framework 
of the Habsburg Monarchy. But unless Galicia was excluded, 
Austria could not be effectively Germanized. As, however, in the 
Austrian Reichsrat the Germans and Poles united had not the neces- 
sary two-thirds majority over the subject races, it was proposed to 
carry out the changes by means of unconstitutional Imperial edicts 
(Oktroi) the Magyars would not have vetoed changes completing 
the triple German-Magyar-Polish scheme. But once more the dis- 
cussions were cut short before any results had been attained. The 
Russian Revolution supervened in March 1917, with hopes for peace 
and fear of social upheaval. The Austrian Reichsrat, which had not 
beensummonedsincetheoutbreakof the War, had to be convened, the 
appearance at least of constitutional government had to be restored. 
The dominant races were promised that their wishes should be real- 
ized at some more convenient time, in some more convenient form. 

12. The Russian Revolution. To many the Russian Revolution 
came like a current of fresh air through a stifling heavy atmosphere, 
like the promise of a new, better world. Europe was turning in a 
vicious circle, and a struggle was dragging on which by then every 
one wished had never broken out. But peace without victory could 
not be concluded by those who thought in categories of nationality; 
genuine controversies are settled, not solved in their own terms. 
Decisions are imposed, but the real solution comes with change in 
modes of thinking and indifference to previous issues. The non- 
national Habsburgs became pacifists in a war of nationality, which 
they themselves had provoked in order to defeat nationality. The 
popular revolt against war assumed the form of social upheaval, 
cutting across the lines of purely nationalist ideology. Social revolu- 
tion, at a Peace Conference dominated by the fear of it, might have 
saved the Habsburg Monarchy by diverting attention to new lines 
of cleavage. But further war under revolutionary conditions was 
bound to destroy it. 'The responsibility for continuing the War is 
much greater for a sovereign whose country is united by the ties of 
dynasty alone, than for the ruler of a country where the people itself 
fights for a national cause, 5 wrote Count Czernin in his memo- 
randum of 12 April 1917. With the dynasty, its inheritance was 
bound to disappear. 



THE DOWNFALL OF THE HABSBURG MONARCHY 

The fear of social revolution in Europe in 1917 sprang from an 
intellectual illusion. The book-reading world knew the Socialist 
doctrine to be non-national, and forgot that this was not true of 
those who professed it, least of all of the Socialist intelligentsia. What- 
ever divergences there were in social interests, all alike had been edu- 
cated in nationalist ideologies. Therefore the danger or chance of 
proletarian revolution stood, ceteris paribus, in an inverted ratio to 
the diffusion of education. Revolutions after defeats were prole- 
tarian despair let loose by nationalist exasperation. But while the War 
lasted nationalist zeal neutralized social antagonisms, and it is im- 
material whether this was because of national sentiment even in the 
lower classes or because of their inability to act without a strong 
lead from members of the intelligentsia. In oppressed or endangered 
nations the Socialist intellectuals proved the most uncompromising 
of nationalists. They cultivated nationality with a radicalism pecu- 
liar to their nature and ideas. Their nationalism was based on the 
living popular masses, not on theory; this did not render it less 
deadly in nationally mixed territories or where nationality hope- 
lessly conflicted with geography. In Austria-Hungary the rise of 
socialism, stimulated by the Russian Revolution, produced in all 
races a movement which in a more than ever absolute manner in- 
sisted on complete national reunion and independence, irrespective 
of historic tradition, established States, existing frontiers, and most 
of all, independent of inherited dynasties or dynastic inheritances. 

The less a nation shared the interests of the dynasty, the stronger 
was the repercussion produced on it by the Russian example. c Your 
Majesty is acquainted with the secret reports of the Governors,' 
wrote Count Czernin in his memorandum of 12 April 1917. '... the 
Russian Revolution works more strongly on our Slavs than on the 
Germans in Germany.' When after more than three years the Aus- 
trian Reichsrat reassembled on 30 May 1917, the representatives of 
the subject races came forward with programs revolutionary in sub- 
stance, although in form they still acknowledged the dynasty. The 
Czechs greeted the Russian Revolution 'with boundless admiration 
and enthusiasm', declared 'solemnly before the whole world the 
Czech people's will to freedom and independence', demanded the 
reshaping of the Monarchy into 'a federal State of free national 
States with equal rights', and, as a logical sequence, the joining-up 
of the Czechs and Slovaks in a single unit. The leader of the Yugo- 
slavs similarly demanded 'the union of all territories of the Mon- 
archy inhabited by Slovenes, Croats, and Serbs in an independent 
State organism, free from the rule of any foreign nation.' The 



130 VANISHED SUPREMACIES 

Ruthenes passionately protested against East Galicia being kept in 
constitutional union with Polish territories or forced into it still fur- 
ther, demanded self-government for the Little Russian territories of 
the Monarchy, and hinted at their fundamental unity with the 
Russian Ukraine. The foundations of Austria-Hungary's structure, 
which 'created ruling and oppressed peoples', were openly assailed. 

13. The Attitude of the Poles. By May 1917 the attitude of the 
Poles towards Austria had lost its precision. Their dominant position 
in Galicia had suffered diminution in the war, the Habsburgs had 
proved unable in face of German opposition to realize their Polish 
schemes, and the fear of Russia among the Poles disappeared to a 
very large extent when, on 30 March 1917, revolutionary Russia 
acknowledged Poland's independence and renounced all claims to 
ethnically Polish territory. It was now from the Central Powers in 
occupation of Polish territory that Poland's independence and re- 
union had to be extracted. Still the consequent change of front 
among the Poles was by no means complete. The 'conciliatories', 
those who always favoured compromise with whatever Power was 
dominant in Poland, could not disregard the possibility of the Cen- 
tral Powers remaining supreme; the fear of revolution spreading 
from the east replaced with many the previous fear of Russia 
against social revolution the Central Powers were the bulwark in 
Eastern Europe; lastly, few Poles would have been satisfied with 
national independence within ethnically just frontiers they aspired 
to conquests in White Russian and Little Russian land, in the vast 
territories beyond Poland's eastern ethnic border, where the Polish 
land-owning nobility ruled over many millions of non-Polish pea- 
sants. Polish designs on such a socially conservative basis, could best 
have been realized in conjunction with the Central Powers. The 
weakening of Russia seemed to offer an incomparable opportunity 
for Polish imperialist expansion. 

Under the influence of the Russian Revolution the more radical 
elements among the Galician Poles adopted a sharper attitude to- 
wards Austria. On 28 May 1917 a resolution was voted at the 
Cracow conference of the representatives of Austrian Poland de- 
manding a reunited and independent Poland with free access to the 
sea. The Polish Socialists were moving towards opposition to the 
Austrian Government. But in Parliament practically all the Polish 
members belonged to one single Club. The cautious and conserva- 
tive in it insisted on continuing to negotiate with the Austrian 
Government, and tried by means of compromise and agreement to 
regain for the Poles their previous position in the Galician adminis- 



THE DOWNFALL OF THE HABSBURG MONARCHY 131 

tration, to secure their dominion over the Ruthenes of East Galicia, 
to obtain concessions in late Russian Poland, and to gain an exten- 
sion of frontiers at Russia's expense. But the response of the Central 
Powers to their advances was perfunctory. The Polish Club in the 
Austrian Reichsrat, embarrassed by continuous rebuffs and under 
pressure from the Left, occasionally passed into opposition to the 
government, only to return to its side when able to point to any 
concessions, however problematical. c lf at present our representa- 
tives have passed into opposition, this is chiefly because the adminis- 
tration of Galicia has been entrusted to alien hands . . .' wrote the 
correspondent of the Kurjer Poznanski, the chief organ of the 
National Democrats in Posnania, on 24 July 1917. 'But it is said 
that a return to the previous condition is imminent. Then willy-nilly 
the Polish Club will have to resume its previous attitude towards the 
Austrian Government; for power at home it will have to pay by 
supplying the government with the necessary number of votes in 
Parliament.' 'Exactly as half a century ago', wrote the Vienna Neue 
Freie Presse on 8 March 1918, after the most serious conflict be- 
tween the Poles and the Government, 5 'the Poles have refused to 
make common cause with the Czechs and to share in political 
wickedness.' The balance within the Polish Club itself and its leader- 
ship had lost steadiness; but every change in its attitude meant on a 
division a turn-over of about 150 in a House of 500 members. 
Neither satisfied nor irreconcilable, the Poles became the uncertain 
quantity in Austrian politics. 

14. Bolshevism and Austria-Hungary. Russia under Kerensky 
moved within accepted State traditions, respecting their limitations. 
Bolshevism broke through the framework of the past, established the 
victory of a mass movement over an inherited organization, and in 
international relations poclaimed the unlimited right of every nation 
to determine its own fate. The Austro-Hungarian Government in 
sublime naivety allowed, even encouraged, the press to describe the 
break-up of the Russian Empire, the dissolution of its armies, and 
the disappearance of authority. Finally at Brest-Litovsk it appeared 
wise in its own eyes when it argued with the Bolsheviks on their own 
principle of self-determination, but forgot that force alone could not 
permanently exclude it from the territories of the Habsburg Mon- 
archy. In Austria the subject races and the starving, suffering masses 
eagerly watched how a great and strong empire was trodden to dust 
by 'the feet of the poor and the steps of the needy', the picture of an 
army in dissolution became vivid to the rank and file of the Austrian 
6 On the subject of Kholm, see infra 17. 



!CJ2 VANISHED SUPREMACIES 

troops, the idea that a new era had opened up irresistibly imposed 
itself on the minds of men. c The Peace' (of Brest-Litovsk), wrote the 
Vienna Socialist Arbeiter-Zeitung on 2 March 1918, 'promises inde- 
pendent statehood to the Finns, Esths, Letts, Lithuanians, Poles, and 
Ukranians. Even the German Nationalists in their mental blindness 
cannot seriously believe that it will be possible to refuse statehood to 
the Czechs, when it is conceded to nations far inferior to them in 
wealth, culture, and power.' Hitherto the German Socialists in 
Austria had stood by the program of cultural autonomy for the 
different nationalities; educational matters were to have been 
handed over to voluntary organizations resembling churches, yet 
endowed with considerable governing powers. Under the influence 
of the Bolshevik Revolution they advanced beyond their previous 
program. c ln the great world-league of free nations . . .' wrote the 
Arbeiter-Zeitung in the article quoted above, 'there is no room for 
the old Austria; if Austria is to exist at all, it must change into a 
union of free nations.' 'No fully developed, self-conscious nation 
can renounce its right to a State of its own.' { To every nation its 
State with its own government and its own Parliament; all nations 
united in the -Empire for the common administration of the joint 
economic body on this basis alone a constitution is possible which 
the nations would voluntarily accept and which would put an end 
to conflicts of nationality.' 

15. The Impossibility of reconstructing Austria-Hungary. Two 
difficulties were silently passed- over in the program. One was the 
problem of Dualism, the other the problem of territorial delimita- 
tion in the Czech provinces. C A11 nations united in the Empire . . .' 
did 'Empire* stand for Austria plus Hungary? If so, the Magyar 
State in Hungary had first to be destroyed, and to effect this was 
not within the power of Austria, but of the hostile Allied and Associ- 
ated Powers alone. Meantime the Czechs and Slovenes refused to 
enter into any negotiations on constitutional reform if this was to be 
circumscribed within the Austrian half of the Monarchy. The Ger- 
man Socialist leader, Dr. Renner, subsequently first Chancellor of 
the German-Austrian Republic, preached nationalism to the Ger- 
mans in the Vienna Parliament. They should not remain satisfied 
with the nondescript Austrian State, he declared in a speech on 
25 February 1918, but should 'as a nation demand national unity 
and national self-determination within the framework of a federal 
State based on nationality. . . / And he added: 'It is unthinkable 
that the Czechs should enclose German territory or the Germans 
Czech territory within their respective States.' But the German 



THE DOWNFALL OF THE HABSBURG MONARCHY 133 

mountain fringe cannot be separated from the Czech plain. State- 
hood attained by such a carving-out of territory as could never form 
an independent State would indeed have been a Danaan gift for the 
Czechs. It would have been preferable for them to remain amor- 
phous in the anonymous Austrian State than to have the German 
Borderlands of Eger and Reichenberg, of Trautenau and Troppau, 
formed into a German State. Yet obviously, whatever the 
hitherto dominant Austrian Germans could do, they could not 
voluntarily allow three million Germans inhabiting the Czech pro- 
vinces to be reduced to the position of a national minority within a 
Czech State. The hostile Allied and Associated Powers alone could 
do so. On the two rocks of the Dualist system and of German 
Bohemia every attempt at reforming Austria-Hungary from within 
was bound to founder, however sincerely undertaken. 

But, in fact, no such attempt was honestly made. The consti- 
tutional reform, which the Austrian Prime Minister, Dr. von Seidler, 
outlined on 7 March 1918, aimed at destroying the possible founda- 
tions of national States within Austrian territory. He professed the 
doctrine of cultural autonomy which the Socialists had put up in 
1899 and abandoned as insufficient in 1918. We, in our time,' he 
declared, 'must see to it that the conflicts of nationality should find 
their solution within the framework of the State*, i.e. of the one, 
undivided Austrian State. He acted in understanding with the 
German parties and consequently in their interests. He wants a 
settlement in Bohemia and an understanding with the Yugoslavs in 
the Alps, in every province apart . . .' was the comment of the Neue 
Freie Presse on 8 March. 'That which is a policy of peace between 
the nationalities in Bohemia, would be a policy of war between the 
nationalities in Styria. . . .' Put into plainer language, this meant that 
the measures which suited Austria and the Germans in Bohemia, 
where the Germans were in a minority, did not suit them in Styria, 
where they were in a majority; that the separation of the German 
from the Czech parts of Bohemia would have destroyed the founda- 
tions of the Czech State, but the separation of the Slovene from the 
German districts of Styria and Carinthia would have led to the for- 
mation of a Slovene State and its ultimate inclusion in Yugoslavia. 
A significant passage in the speech acknowledged the existence of a 
Yugoslav problem. The idea which was at the back of Seidler's 
mind was more clearly explained in his speech of 3 May 1918. 
Bosnia and Dalmatia were to be joined up with Croatia into a 
* Great-Croatian 9 State. But e the Austrian provinces which lie on the 
road to the Adriatic and are closely connected with the German- 



134 VANISHED SUPREMACIES 

speaking provinces could not be included in this State'. The Austrian 
Government seems still always to have counted on the old Croat 
sentiment which they hoped to revive by creating a State in which 
the Roman Catholic Croats would have had a very marked prepon- 
derance over the Greek Orthodox Serbs. But even if the setting-up 
of such a State might have scuttled the idea of a united Yugoslavia, 
which by 1918 seemed more than doubtful, the Magyars naturally 
failed to see why they were to hand over to it provinces which lay 
on their road to the Adriatic, and why they were to agree to the 
setting-up of a State which, if it had successfully grown into a Habs- 
burg dependency, would have changed the balance within the Mon- 
archy to the disadvantage of the Magyars. That is why the scheme 
could never be realized. 

On 2 April 1918, Count Czernin, the Austro-Hungarian Minister 
for Foreign Affairs, in a public speech bitterly attacked the Czechs 
for demanding Czecho-Slovak union and independence and for 
sympathizing with the Czecho-Slovak Legions which fought on the 
Allied side. 'The wretched and miserable Masaryk is not the only 
one of his kind. There are also Masaryks within the borders of the 
Monarchy.' Czernin's speech marked a return to the anti-Slav mili- 
tancy of 1915 and 1916. In April 1917 Czernin himself had called 
for a suspension of anti-Slav action in view of the efforts which were 
then to be made to obtain peace with Russia. A year later, after 
Brest-Litovsk, he gave the signal for resuming the old course. 

1 6. The Clemenceau Disclosures and the Austrian Germans. 
Czernin's speech led to unexpected results. It provoked Clemen- 
ceau's revelations concerning the secret peace negotiations which in 
1917 the Emperor Charles had conducted behind the backs both of 
his own Foreign Minister and of Germany. 6 The speech resulted in 
Czernin's resignation (15 April); and the publication of the Em- 
peror's letter exasperated the German Nationalists and turned them 
against the Habsburgs, a fact which was to weigh heavily in the 
decisive days of October 1918. They had gone far to renounce their 
own distinct German nationalism and had forgone German national 
reunion in favour of the anonymous Austrian State, trusting that in 
fact they would remain in exclusive control of that State. And now, 
during a war which was to have led to the consolidation of German 

6 For Count Czernin's speech of 2 April 1918 v. G. L. Dickinson, Peace Pro- 
posals and War Aims (1919), pp. 174-5; and for the Emperor's letters, etc., v. 
pp. 30-41. For details of a proposed negotiation with Austria v. documents in 
V 'Opinion, 10, 24, 31 July 1920, which also published Prince Sixte's account. 
The accuracy of the latter was formally denied by President Poincare', cf. 
G. Manteyer, The Austrian Peace Offer. 



THE DOWNFALL OF THE HABSBURG MONARCHY 135 

Mittel-Europa, the Habsburgs, who had so often paid lip-service to 
the German idea and the German alliance, were found conducting 
a purely dynastic policy of their own. The attempt was childish, it 
disregarded the most elementary facts of the situation, consequently 
was utterly futile, yet was made; and was a prelude to an equally 
absurd attempt in the last days of October 1918, and supplied the 
background to this. It was with cold eyes of estrangement that the 
German Nationalists henceforth watched the fate of the Habsburg 
dynasty. 

Meantime the incident supplied the Austrian Germans with 
matter for blackmail. They could force the Government to hasten 
the 'German course' in Austria. At this price they refrained from 
raising the question of the Emperor's letters in the Vienna Parlia- 
ment. On 3 May, in a speech delivered at a conference of the Par- 
liamentary leaders, Dr. von Seidler attacked the Czechs and Yugo- 
slavs, more fully developing the program outlined on 7 March. On 
6 May Dr. Zolger, a Slovene who had a seat in his Cabinet, 
had to resign. On 19 May an Imperial Rescript was published 
separating the predominantly German from the predominantly 
Czech districts in Bohemia. The Czechs were thus brought up 
against the alternative of winning independence or of seeing 
their natural boundaries obliterated. The Austrian Government by 
its continuous tergiversations and its short-sighted palliatives 
estranged even the dominant nationalities., and exasperated those 
which were anyhow in permanent opposition to it. 

17. Kholm and East Galicia. In the peace treaty concluded with 
the Ukrainian puppet Government at Brest-Litovsk on 9 February 
1918, the entire district of Kholm, even its purely Polish west, was 
ceded to the Ukraine. Such a violation of Polish territory in the 
east, where the Poles counted on annexing tens of thousands of 
square miles of non-Polish territory, drove the Poles frantic. The 
Polish outcry made the Austro-Hungarian Government reopen 
negotiations with the Ukrainians, who, on 3 March, agreed to a 
rectification of the frontier. In compensation, however, a secret 
promise seems to have been given to them that the Ruthene part of 
Galicia would be withdrawn from Polish dominion and, together 
with the Ruthene parts of the Bukovina, formed into an autonomous 
province. This the Poles discovered in the first days of June, and 
again threatened to pass into an intransigent opposition. Conse- 
quently the notorious Magyar diplomat, Count Forgach, the author 
of the Friedjung forgeries, and one of the men who had drafted 
the ultimatum to Serbia in July 1914, was sent to Kiev to explain 



ig6 VANISHED SUPREMACIES 

to the Ukrainian Government that in view of their having failed to 
carry out the food clauses of the Treaty, the promises made to them 
had lapsed. Nevertheless the Poles remained bitter at heart against 
Vienna, while the Ukrainians in turn felt exasperated. One by one 
the nationalities in Austria saw themselves menaced by the activities 
of the Habsburgs and the governmental clique, and saw promises 
given and broken with equal recklessness. 

1 8. Poland and Central Europe. Peace having been concluded 
with Russia, the time seemed to have come to settle the future of the 
territories ceded by her to the Central Powers. The problem of 
Poland and Lithuania, and indirectly of Central European Union, 
came up once more. Germany, no less than the Austrian Germans, 
hoped to blackmail the Habsburgs over the letters of the Emperor 
Charles. They forgot to reckon with the Magyars, who could not be 
moved to concessions by embarrassments of the dynasty. On 12 May 
the Emperor Charles, to expiate his indiscretions, went on a pilgrim- 
age to German Headquarters, accepted in principle a union of his 
States with Germany, and received full absolution. The concrete 
application of the principle was to be worked out by the competent 
statesmen. But disagreements immediately arose as to what exactly 
had been agreed upon. Count Burian, the Austro-Hungarian Minis- 
ter for Foreign AJffairs, maintained that the conclusion of closer 
union between the Central Powers was not possible while Austria- 
Hungary's future frontiers and internal structure were uncertain, 
i.e. so long as the Polish question remained unsettled. The Germans 
replied that they were uncertain what concessions to make in that 
matter while ignorant of what Austria-Hungary's future relations to 
Germany would be. Burian asserted the essential and close connex- 
ion between the problems of the Austro-Polish Solution and of Cen- 
tral European Union, Germany insisted on Central European Union 
being a distinct problem and the Polish Question part of the general 
East European settlement. A complete deadlock was reached. 

By 1918 the Magyars had acquired an interest of their own in the 
Polish Question. They had accepted the Andrassy plan of connect- 
ing the Austro-Polish scheme with Mittel-Europa, but on one con- 
dition. The new Poland was to be joined to Austria, but in turn 
Austria was to hand over Dalmatia and Bosnia to Hungary; not to 
Croatia, but unconditionally to the Magyars, who would thus 
acquire undivided control of the Serbo-Croat problem. The dead- 
lock in the Polish negotiations with Germany was linked to a dead- 
lock within Austria-Hungary. 

19. The Decay of Austria. Meantime the Austrian State was 



THE DOWNFALL OF THE HABSBURG MONARCHY 137 

visibly dying. The financial position was becoming untenable. The 
Austrian National Debt had risen to 70 milliard crowns; Austria 
lived by printing money. The circulation of paper money had risen 
from 2 milliards before the War to n by the end of 1916 and to 
27 by i October 1918. The population was starving. Stores and re- 
sources were exhausted. The army was far gone in decomposition. 
The towns were full of deserters ; in country districts they conducted 
systematic brigandage. Austria still held together merely because 
there was no enemy near enough to give it the shattering blow. 

20. Last Attempts at Settlement and Reconstruction. When the 
turn of the tide came on the Western Front in July 1918, and from 
day to day the situation became more threatening to the Central 
Powers, another effort was made to settle outstanding problems. 
LudendorfFs plan to create a Lithuanian and a Ukrainian State 
under German tutelage had broken down over the conflict between 
the socially conservative principles of Germany and the socially revo- 
lutionary interests of the Lithuanian and Ukrainian peasantries. A 
Polish settlement on a socially congenial, conservative basis was 
attempted. Prince Radziwill, the Polish Minister for Foreign Affairs, 
was summoned to German Headquarters on 10 August, and an 
extension of Polish frontiers in Lithuania and White Russia was 
offered in lieu of the Austrian Solution. The Polish delegates left 
German Headquarters on the i3th, and on the i4th the Austrian 
Emperor arrived, accompanied by Count Burian. The proposal to 
make Archduke Charles Stephen King of a Polish State built on the 
German plan seems to have been offered as a compensation to the 
Habsburgs. They refused, and it was agreed to let the Poles them- 
selves decide between the rival schemes. C A plan has been agreed 
upon', declared Burian in an interview on 19 August, 'which will 
considerably expedite matters. . . . The Poles are to be invited to 
participate in the Austrian-German negotiations. . . . They have the 
right freely to choose their own King. . . .' 

In September Tisza, apparently as homo regius, started out on a 
journey through Bosnia-Herzegovina. He was to ascertain how a 
settlement favourable to the Magyars could be reached in the Yugo- 
slav provinces. The Magyars seem to have wished to tie up Bosnia 
and Dalmatia directly with Hungary, as Croatia was joined to her, 
but not to admit any direct connexion between the two Yugoslav 
units. The scheme was absurd in its complexity, and even humor- 
ous in the setting of September 1918, Every Yugoslav deputation 
received by Count Tisza, even that of the very moderate Bosnian 
Moslems, told him that Yugoslav unity was their aim. Tisza, to one 



138 VANISHED SUPREMACIES 

of them, called the principle of self-determination c an empty 
phrase', their memorandum 'silly nonsense', and in a fit of rage 
exclaimed: 'We may perish, but before we perish we shall have suf- 
ficient strength to crush all those who cherish such ambitions.' Still, 
not even between Austria and Hungary was there agreement as to 
the settlement of the Bosnian problem. The outstanding feature of 
Austria-Hungary's history in the War was the inability to remodel 
the system of 1867. It could be destroyed, and the Habsburg Mon- 
archy with it, but it did not admit of development. 

About the middle of August reports appeared in the clerical 
Austrian press alleging that a scheme of reform was being prepared 
for constructing four national States, a German, a Czech, a Yugo- 
slav, and a Polish State, within Austria's framework. It was ascribed 
to Professor Lammasch and Dr. Redlich. On 28 August, an ambigu- 
ous official communique, while denying current reports, declared 
that the Government considered 'a revision of the constitution, pre- 
serving all the interests implied in the integrity of the State, one of 
its most important tasks'. But no one seemed worried by these 
rumours. The German- Austrian press was ironical; the Magyar 
papers declared that any such change in Austria's constitution 
would lead to a break with Hungary; the Czech leaders, however 
moderate, publicly denied having anything to do with the schemes. 
'Negotiations are of no use, because our final aim cannot be reached 
by negotiations,' stated Stanek, President of the Czech Parlia- 
mentary Union, on 3 September. 'The time for negotiations is long 
past, and times are much too serious for any one to conduct valid 
negotiations with the Government . . . unless authorized by the Czech 
Parliamentary Union or the Czech National Committee.' 'In evil 
days we did not lose our heads', declared Klofac, another Czech 
leader, 'and threats could not break us. Nor shall we lose our heads 
now, and promises will not influence us. ... The Czech question 
cannot be discussed with the Vienna Government which stands by 
the Dual System: under that system the Czech question cannot be 
solved any more than that of the Yugoslavs. The various proposals 
of the Vienna Government are therefore of no interest to us.' As if 
to prove finally the futility of such discussions, Baron von Hussarek 
declared on 1 1 September that there were two limits to constitu- 
tional reform in Austria 'respect for the rights and constitution of 
Hungary, and the determination to preserve a united Austrian 
State'. 

The old difficulties and the deadlock reasserted themselves. True 
reform within Austria-Hungary was impossible. 



THE DOWNFALL OF THE HABSBURG MONARCHY 139 



G. THE COLLAPSE 

21. The Twilight of the Gods. In the summer of 1918, by ack- 
nowledging Czecho-Slovakia as an independent, co-belligerent 
nation, the Allied and Associated Powers completed the program of 
the root and branch destruction of the Habsburg Monarchy, previous 
treaties or engagements having assigned the Italian, Yugoslav, and 
Ruman parts of Austria-Hungary to the three neighbouring States 
and recognized the principle of Polish reunion and independence. 
Peace negotiations with Austria-Hungary would have been illogical 
when the destruction of the Habsburg Monarchy and of its two 
component States was the purpose in view. Hence, in the autumn of 
1918, the ardent desire of their Governments to enter into immediate 
negotiations, and so to obtain an implicit recognition of their right 
to speak for the populations of the Habsburg Monarchy and to con- 
tinue a supernational existence. The growing panic in military 
circles supplied the background to these attempts. In a speech de- 
livered on 9 September, Count Burian complained of the intention 
of the Allies to destroy the Habsburg Monarchy; in the Note of 
15 September, which proposed informal peace conversations, he 
quoted from old speeches of Allied statesmen to show that it was not 
their intention to destroy it: he shut his eyes to a threat which he 
could not face any longer. President Wilson referred the Austro- 
Hungarian Government to the principles which he had previously 
laid down as basis for negotiations. Burian replied on the soth that 
Austria-Hungary's offer remained open. Then followed Bulgaria's 
military collapse. On 26 September she sued for an armistice, and 
on the sgth accepted terms practically equivalent to unconditional 
surrender. Every one felt that this was the beginning of a general 
deroute, and that the end was near at hand. No enemy army had as 
yet reached the frontiers of the Habsburg Monarchy, and extensive 
territories beyond its borders remained under its military occu- 
pation. Still, within a month the Habsburg Monarchy and its poli- 
tical framework were to disappear, destroyed not by an extraneous 
force but by the logic of hitherto repressed ideas. And the men who 
at the beginning of October were rulers, or were deemed rulers, of a 
great and ancient Empire, at its close were but a group of individuals 
with no definable political standing or connexions. They left the 
empty stage escorted by the echoes of desertion. 

The October days of 1918 in Austria will for ever remain remarkable 



I4O VANISHED SUPREMACIES 

for their mass psychology and as an example of how ideas, talked 
about yet unthinkable on one day, acquire life on the next, while 
other ideas, which had seemed solid fact, pass out of reality. Austria- 
Hungary disappeared when it vanished from the consciousness of 
those concerned. The War had broken the habits and the approach of 
defeat disbodied the ideas which made up its political' and social struc- 
ture. The language changed; for the first time men drew conclusions 
from old familiar facts; the pace at which they did so, quickened 
daily; it became catastrophical. Diplomatic notes, speeches in the 
Vienna and Budapest Parliaments, declarations and manifestoes pub- 
lished at Prague, Zagreb, Cracow, or Lvov, were no longer mere 
moves in a political game. The masses listened to the march of 
events, the leaders watched the movements of the inarticulate 
masses. Elemental forces seemed to work through men and to 
control them, uncontrolled by them. The solid political foundations 
of inherited everyday existence vanished, and in the enormous void 
ideas seemed to move, free from hindrance, obeying their own laws. 

22. Hussar ek's Speech of i October 1918. The Austrian Parlia- 
ment reassembled on i October 1918. The Prime Minister, Baron 
von Hussarek, opened with an elaborate speech, whose phrasing 
would have won him a prize in a school competition the last 
'Noodle's Oration' of the Austrian bureaucracy. 'At the [Balkan] 
front our troops stand shoulder to shoulder with German troops, and 
there, too, preserve magnificently and faithfully the firmly cemented 
alliance which in future also shall unshakeably resist all the tests of 
Fate The hour [for peace negotiations] must come. I look for- 
ward to it with calm and determination.' 

(a) Poland. The problems discussed in July and August were 
dealt with as if it was in the power of Austria's rulers to shape their 
development. 'Poland is to become an independent factor in the 

political world of Europe The form of the Polish State must be 

freely determined by the Poles themselves. In Poland a strong cur- 
rent of opinion is known to favour establishing her independence in 
closer union with the Habsburg Monarchy, and no one can take it 
amiss if we, for our part, sympathize with the movement and try to 
meet it half-way We absolutely respect Poland's right to self- 
determination, and merely demand that others should respect it, 
even if it works out to our advantage.' Did he hope that the Poles 
would board a sinking ship, or was this a cheerful tune played to 
avert panic? 

(6) The Yugoslav Problem. In Bosnia-Herzegovina Austria 'does 
not intend to renounce her rights or barter them away against hopes 



THE DOWNFALL OF THE HABSBURG MONARCHY 14! 

of territorial increase elsewhere. * . . The interests of its population 
and of the Monarchy are to be safeguarded. And now it clearly 
appears that the historical separation of Bosnia from Croatia and 
Dalmatia no longer answers the just desires of their inhabitants.' 
Here was the old dynastic Croat idea, directed against the Magyars: 
the Habsburg and the Magyar conceptions still opposed each other 
when the material foundations of both were crumbling fast. Nor had 
even the Austrian-German Nationalists freed themselves altogether 
of inherited Great-Austrian instincts. They, who implicitly acknow- 
ledged the Magyars as their closest associates and on 30 September 
decided to approach the Magyar leaders with a view to discussing 
'the problems which concerned both States alike', on the very same 
day voted a resolution against ceding Dalmatia to Hungary; it could 
be ceded 'to Croatia alone, under very clearly defined conditions'. 

(c) National Autdnomy in Austria. 'Gentlemen, the iron march 
of the days in which Fate has placed us', continued the imperturb- 
able Hussarek, 'compels us not to overlook the tasks of the future for 
the sorrows of the present day; having gained peace abroad, we shall 
have to go to work and set our house in order. Its structure has per- 
manently valuable foundations, but it imperatively demands to be 
completed and renovated. We can no longer shut ourselves off from 
considering and solving the problem of autonomy for the different 
nationalities. . . . The fruitful principle of national autonomy can be 
applied still further, and this having been done systematically, a 
considerable improvement nay, a complete denouement may be 
expected. The difficulty lies in its application. . . . The task will arise 
for the Government carefully to prepare and inaugurate this difficult 
work.' 7 What a sense of time! In October 1918 the Austrian 
Government proposed to prepare to face the task of careful pre- 
liminary work on initiating the difficult application of a 'fruitful 
principle' of internal reconstruction. 

23. The Attitude of the Parties, (a} The Austrian Germans. 'How 
well this speech would have sounded ten years ago, and how useful 
it would have been!' replied the leader of the German-Austrian 
Socialists. 'Perhaps even four years, perhaps even a year ago. That 
it no longer appears the product of insight but of fear makes it now 
less or differently effective than was intended.' On the day on which 
Parliament met, the German-Austrian Socialists put forward their 
own proposals. All Italian territory was to be ceded to Italy, and the 
Poles and Ukrainians were to be left free to determine their own fate, 

7 *Der Regierung wird die Aufgabe erwachsen diese grosse aber aussichtsreiche 
Arbeit sorgfaltig vorzubereiten und einzuleiten* 



142 VANISHED SUPREMACIES 

but Western Austria, the old German domain, was to be saved and 
preserved on a pseudo-national and pseudo-territorial basis. The 
members representing the nationalities in the Austrian Reichsrat 
were to form themselves into National Assemblies, draw up constitu- 
tions for their territories, and jointly consider what matters should 
remain common to them all: the German- Austrian Socialists had in 
mind the German Austrians themselves, the Czechs, and the Yugo- 
slavs, though as yet the scheme was not explicitly limited to them. 
The Czechs and Austrian Yugoslavs were thus asked to accept 
the frontiers of Western Austria, to discuss their future apart from 
trie Slovaks and the Yugoslavs of Hungary, Croatia, Bosnia- 
Herzegovina, and Serbia, while the deputies from the German 
fringes of the Czech provinces and even from their German enclaves 
were to enter the German-Austrian Assembly. This was chastened 
German nationalism, but still naively egoistic nationalism. The form 
had changed, the substance remained the same. 

On 2 October rumours that the Austro-Hungarian Government 
would in a new Peace Note accept President Wilson's Fourteen 
Points, made the Pan-German deputies propose that, in such a case, 
the German members should immediately withdraw from the Aus- 
trian Parliament and form themselves into a German-Austrian 
National Assembly. The Czechs were to be forestalled with regard to 
German Bohemia; as for the Austrian State, it was no concern of 
the German Nationalists once it became incapable of serving their 
purpose. On 4 October, at a Conference of the three big German 
parties, the National Union, the Christian Socialists, and the 
Socialists, the scheme implied in the Socialist resolutions of i Octo- 
ber was fully developed, and on the 5th the Socialist program was 
accepted by the other parties as basis for negotiations. They decided 
to recognize the right of the Latin and Slav nations to determine 
their fate and to form States of their own, but these were not to 
include ethnically German territory. All German territories of 
Austria were to form a German- Austrian State which would freely 
settle its relations to the other nationalities and to Germany. The 
Austrian Germans would enter into negotiations with the Czechs and 
Yugoslavs for transforming Austria into a league of free national 
commonwealths, but were this refused they would with all their 
strength oppose any attempt of the Austrian authorities or of 
foreign Powers to settle without their consent their fate or that of 
any part of their territory. Under the influence of the debate which 
followed on Hussarek's speech, the Austrian Germans had advanced 
a considerable distance in five days. The ballast of by now irrelevant 



THE DOWNFALL OF THE HABSBURG MONARCHY 143 

inherited conceptions was thrown overboard. The Habsburg Mon- 
archy, Austria-Hungary, the Austrian State itself, had disappeared 
from their consciousness; in their mind Western Austria remained 
the only reality. They would talk to the Czechs because of the Ger- 
man minorities comprised in their provinces, and to the Slovenes 
whose territory intervened between them and the sea. They would 
talk to their kinsmen in Germany. They passed over the Habsburgs 
in silence. Bosnia-Herzegovina and, it seems, even Dalmatia were 
forgotten, Galicia and the Bukovina were written off, Hungary was 
not mentioned, the Austrian authorities were treated as extraneous, 
almost alien, to the Austrian Germans. The final break had come in 
the consciousness of the old champions of the Habsburg Monarchy, 
even the Christian Socialists had to accept it. Sauve qui peutand 
from- that moment the Austrian Germans were Austrian Germans 
and nothing more. 

(b) The Czechs and Yugoslavs. The Austro-Hungarian Govern- 
ment tried to inaugurate a Peace Conference in order to reassert the 
existence of the Monarchy and of the Dualist Constitution, and 
thereby implicitly to deny that of a Czecho-Slovak and of a Yugo- 
slav nation. The Czechs and Yugoslavs in the Austrian Parliament 
answered Hussarek's speech of i October by demanding that in the 
peace negotiations they should be directly represented and heard, 
declared that they would not allow the Austro-Hungarian Govern- 
ment to speak for them, nor would they discuss their future with the 
Austrian Government, but would settle it in conjunction with the 
Allied and Associated Powers. They could consider no solution 
within the frontiers of Austria alone. 'Should the Austrian Govern- 
ment decide under duress to form Bohemia, Moravia, and Silesia 
into a Czech State to the exclusion of the Hungarian Slovaks', stated 
the leader of the Czechs, 'they would see therein but an attempt to 
break up their national unity. . . .* They flaunted a defiant dis- 
loyalty. 'Not a drop of blood has been voluntarily shed by the 
Czechs on the side of the Central Powers. 3 The Czecho-Slovak 
Legions fighting in conjunction with the Allies have been called a 
rabble, but it is with them that the Austrian Government will have 
to discuss the future of the Czecho-Slovak nation, 'and that is why 
we will not discuss it with you here.' c The Yugoslavs present their 
humble thanks for any schemes of autonomy 3 , declared their spokes- 
man in the Austrian Reichsrat. 'Baron von Hussarek comes too late. 
Through all Yugoslav lands the cry resounds: complete freedom or 
death! No trickery can any longer separate the Slovenes from the 
Croats and Serbs. . . .' 



X44 VANISHED SUPREMACIES 

In the first days of October the Czechs and Yugoslavs considered 
whether they should not withdraw from the Austrian Reichsrat, and 
thus definitely break with the Austrian State. But they were 
uncertain what line and procedure the Allies would adopt towards 
Austria-Hungary, and hesitated to make irrevocable pronounce- 
ments. They remained in the Austrian Reichsrat which offered them 
the best public tribune within the Habsburg Monarchy, while con- 
solidating their national organizations in their own as yet provincial 
centres. On 5 and 6 October a conference was held at Zagreb of all 
the Yugoslav parties in the Austrian, Hungarian, Croatian, and 
Bosnian legislatures, and a National Council was elected to con- 
duct Yugoslav policy. 

(<?) The. Poles. In the debate following on Hussarek's speech, the 
President of the Polish Club spoke in softer tones than other Slav 
leaders, partly from habit and partly with the wish to coax the Aus- 
trian Government into not spoiling the Polish game in East Galicia. 
He was appreciative of the way in which the Prime Minister ack- 
nowledged the right of the Poles to determine their own fate, admit- 
ted that there was a movement in favour of establishing Polish inde- 
pendence in conjunction with the Habsburg Monarchy, explained 
that it was based on the past relations of the Poles to Austria, on the 
part played by the Polish Club in the Austrian Reichsrat, and on 
the battles fought in common with Austria by the Polish Legions, 
but at the same time claimed for the Poles a place among the suffer- 
ing nationalities of Austria. He finished by demanding the complete 
reunion of Poland, including Silesia, with access to the sea, and 
direct representation at the Peace Conference for all Poles. The 
whole of Galicia was assumed to be Poland's due, although in East 
Galicia they formed only about one-fifth of the population. 

(d) The Ruthenes. The Ruthene members entered a passionate 
protest against being subjected to Polish rule. We shall fight and 
die rather than let ourselves be annexed to Poland.' 

24. Austria-Hungary accepts President Wilson's Fourteen Points 
and awaits a Reply. On 4 October 8 the Austro-Hungarian Govern- 
ment, in conjunction with Germany and Turkey, offered to enter 
into peace negotiations on the basis of President Wilson's Fourteen 
Points of 8 January 1918, of the four principles laid down in his 
speech of 1 1 February, and of his speech of 27 September. Point 10 
had stipulated that 'the peoples of Austria-Hungary, whose place 
among the nations we wish to see safeguarded and assured, should 

8 The Note was transmitted by the Swedish Minister at Washington on 
7 October. 



THE DOWNFALL OF THE HABSBURG MONARCHY 145 

be accorded the freest opportunity of autonomous development 5 . 
Austria-Hungary accepted it without inquiring into its precise mean- 
ing. Henceforth nothing could be done in Austria until Washington 
had spoken. 'Austria has a Prime Minister who resides at Washing- 
ton/ wrote the Neue Freie Presse on 9 October. 'His name is Wood- 
row Wilson, and his executive officer in Vienna is Baron von Hus- 
sarek.' Changes in the Austrian Government, new declarations or 
offers, schemes for the future, might all prove equally futile. c We 
might do too much or we might do too little. . . . The Prime Minis- 
ter is Woodrow Wilson at Washington,' it repeated on the isth. 'He 
knows what policy he proposes to prescribe for Austria. . . .' And 
day after day the Vienna press impatiently complained: 'Still no 
answer from America.' In the weeks of supreme crisis the Austrian 
Government became completely paralysed. It waited for an answer, 
or rather for a verdict. It had to wait a long time. In the process of 
waiting it ceased to be a government. 

On 8 October Baron von Hussarek read out the Peace Note of 
the 4th in the Austrian Reichsrat, admitting that it marked 'a modi- 
fication of the political conceptions on which Austrian official policy 
had hitherto been based', and that the time had come for 'full- 
grown nations (mundige Volker] to determine their own future*. 
Austria abandoned all pretence of dominion or claim to it, she 
capitulated before an unknown future. 'She is going to play "King 
Lear",' was the comment of one of her votaries. 

On 9 October President Wilson's answer to Germany was re- 
ceived; it declared that an evacuation of Allied territory must pre- 
cede the conclusion of an armistice, and asked whether the Imperial 
Chancellor was 'speaking merely for the constituted authorities of 
the Empire who have so far conducted the war'. A Reuter wire of 
8 October from Washington added: c lt is officially announced that 
no answer to the Austrian peace proposals is contemplated at 
present.' Dismay spread among the ruling circles of the Habsburg 
Monarchy. On 4 October Germany and Austria-Hungary had 
addressed the same offer to America. Germany alone received a 
reply. What was the meaning of the omission? Austro-Hungarian 
troops no less than those of Germany were in occupation of Allied 
territory. Was Austria-Hungary to heed an answer which ignored its 
existence? But how could she afford to ignore the Note? And what 
could the Austro-Hungarian Government have replied were it asked 
in turn whom it represented? 

On 12 October the German Government in its reply to President 
Wilson's Note of the 8th specially mentioned Austria-Hungary as 



146 VANISHED SUPREMACIES 

agreeing to the evacuation of Allied territory. President Wilson, in 
conclusion to his Note of the I4th, wherein he laid down that the 
military advisers of the Allied and Associated Powers would settle 
the terms of armistice, announced that a separate Note would be 
sent to the Austro-Hungarian Government. They had to wait. 

25. The Last Habsburg Bid. In the meantime an attempt was 
made to form a government which could say whom it represented. 
Lammasch, the old pacifist professor who in August 1918 had talked 
about an internal 'rejuvenation' of Austria, was to succeed Hus- 
sarek, although the Austrian Germans were averse to him because 
they did not trust him to stand faithfully by Germany. On 10 Octo- 
ber representatives of all the Austrian nationalities were summoned 
to audiences with the Emperor for the I2th and I3th; the scheme to 
be discussed was roughly known. The nationalities were to be given 
the right to constitute States of their own within the framework of 
Austria. The change was to be carried out by a Cabinet representing 
all the nationalities. The Poles alone were to be let out of the Ark 
(en route for Warsaw) in accordance with Point 13 of President 
Wilson, 9 and also in the hope that this Habsburg dove, might return 
with an olive leaf increase of territory. The Czechs were the first 
to see the Emperor and flatly refused to enter the proposed Cabinet. 
They demanded that a Czech Government should be set up imme- 
diately at Prague, that it should take part in the Peace Conference, 
and that all Czech regiments should return to the Czech provinces, 
with the natural corollary that non-Czech troops should be with- 
drawn. They warned the Emperor that the Czech popular move- 
ment could no longer be repressed, and that, unless something de- 
cisive was done, the nationalities would act on their own. Tusar, one 
of the Czech delegation to the Emperor (and subsequently Prime 
Minister of the Czecho-Slovak Republic), published after the inter- 
view an article pointing out that the purpose of trying to form a 
Cabinet representing all the Austrian nationalities was to say to the 
world: c ln Austria everything is in perfect order. You need not 
trouble your heads about us!' 'We ourselves, and we alone, shall 
settle our future,' was Tusar's answer. 'We shall give ourselves the 
constitution we need. We shall determine our relations with neigh- 
bouring States, and we refuse to admit any interference from Vienna 
or Budapest. ... A Czech State must arise with a Czech government 

9 Point 13: 'An independent Polish State should be erected which should 
include the territories inhabited by indisputably Polish populations, which 
should be assured a free and secure access to the sea, and whose political and 
economic independence and territorial integrity should be guaranteed by 
international covenant.* 



THE DOWNFALL OF THE HABSBURG MONARCHY 147 

at its head. Its representatives will appear at the Peace Conference. 
There the future organization of the world will be decided.' Before 
the Czechs negotiate with Vienna, Austrian officials must cease to 
rule in Bohemia. 

The refusal of the Czechs, followed by that of other nationalities, 
killed the idea of the Coalition Cabinet. 'No coup d'etat from above 
and no revolution from below', wrote the Arbeiter-Zeitung on 
12 October, 'can produce a government trusted by all the nationali- 
ties to negotiate peace in their name, because many nationalities do 
not want Austria any longer, do not feel citizens of Austria any more, 
and deny the right of any Austrian Government whatsoever to con- 
duct their affairs. This is a naked, brutal fact, which no clear-sighted 
person can deny. . . . We must reckon with the fact that Wilson will 
not invite the Austro-Hungarian Government to the peace negotia- 
tions, but only representatives of each of the nationalities of Austria- 
Hungary. 5 'There can be no doubt', wrote the Arbeiter-Zeitung on 
15 October, 'the dissolution of the State of mixed nationality into 
separate and independent nations is in progress; if not yet in law 
and fact, it already has occurred in the minds of men. . . . The 
nations exist, have long ago constituted themselves, their will to be 
free and independent is unshakeable. . . .' 

What, in that case, was to become of German Austria? On 13 and 
15 October, Otto Bauer, subsequently Minister for Foreign Affairs 
of the German-Austrian Republic, pointed out in the Arbeiter- 
Zeitung that there could not be pne German Austria, but there 
would have to be three geographic fragments Inner Austria 
(Vienna and the Alpine provinces), Northern Bohemia (the German 
fringe from Eger to Trautenau), and the Sudetenland 10 (a few fron- 
tier districts in Eastern Bohemia, Northern Moravia, and the wes- 
tern part of Austrian Silesia down to Troppau), which, unless united 
by remaining within an Austrian super-State, could preserve their 
connexion by union with the German Empire alone. An Austrian 
Federal State would necessarily have to retain very wide powers over 
economic matters, but it seemed highly doubtful whether any of the 
other nationalities would agree to such a surrender of governmental 
powers. 'Because the German Austrians as an industrial nation have 
a strong interest in maintaining the united economic territory, they 
suppose the same feelings in the others,' but in reality the non- 
German nationalities, being mostly agricultural, do not feel the 
same need. Therefore even for economic reasons German Austria 

10 The name of Sudetenland at that time was not as yet made to cover all 
predominantly German districts of the three Czech provinces. 



1<|8 VANISHED SUPREMACIES 

would have to join Germany. The Austrian Germans were rapidly 
losing hope of being able to keep together Western Austria. 

26. Hungary and the Sinking Ship. The Magyars carefully 
watched the disruption of Austria. They felt that the moment was 
fast approaching when Hungary would have to break off her con- 
nexion with Austria in order to escape being pooled with her in the 
bankrupt mass against which the creditor nations would enter 
claims. The Magyar Kingdom of Hungary was to masquerade as an 
oppressed nationality which now at last attained the freedom it had 
yearned for why was it not to retain its direct hold on Slovakia, 
Transylvania, and the Banat as the Poles proposed to retain their 
hold on East GaliciaP.The Magyar Socialists, in a manifesto pub- 
lished on 7 October, offered cultural autonomy to the subject races 
in a Hungary 'which claims the right to determine her own fate.' 
'Self -determination 'such as Count Czernin claimed for Austria- 
Hungary in the argument which he addressed to the Bolsheviks at 
Brest-Litovsk. Vienna was to be the scapegoat. And Germany, 
whom Apponyi and Andrassy, no less than Tisza and Wekerle, had 
but recently described as the natural, indispensable ally of Hun- 
gary, 11 was to be abandoned. On 10 October Tisza delivered a sig- 
nificant speech. Recent developments in Austria, he declared, had 
shaken the foundations of the Dual Monarchy, and should the 
expected changes occur, Hungary would have to reassert her com- 
plete independence. As to the German alliance, it had been neces- 
sary only as long as Hungary was threatened by Tsarist Russia. Even 
more explicit was Dr. Wekerle (who became Premier in August 1917 
after Tisza had resigned in May), when, on 1 1 October, he addressed 
the Executive Committee of his party. 'A fundamental change has 
occurred in our relations with Austria. We are confronted by an 
accomplished fact. ... It is a serious matter that Austria should have 
turned entirely towards federalism. Bohemia proposes to break off 
completely on a federalist basis and to form a separate State. . . . 
Austria has not the strength to withstand such attempts. . . . We no 
longer face the Austria with which we concluded our agreements in 
the past. 5 She cannot fulfil her obligations with regard to common 
defence or economic matters. Hungary must strike out her own line 
and guard her own interests; territorial integrity is her first concern. 

11 See, e.g., Andrassy's speech in the Hungarian Parliament, on 20 June 1918: 
'The German Alliance I consider necessary, natural, and in accordance with 
the only sound policy. I am convinced that without it it is impossible to conduct 
a proper Hungarian policy, for the Germans are the only great race in whose 
interest it is that there should be a strong Hungary. It cannot be to the interest 
of Hungary to estrange this faithful ally. . . . ' 



THE DOWNFALL OF THE HABSBURG MONARCHY 149 

Little was said about the dynasty, but both speeches implied that no 
immediate change was contemplated. The Magyars seem to have 
feared that by prematurely breaking with the dynasty they might 
give it a chance of securing more favourable conditions for Austria 
at the expense of Hungary, i.e. by an attempt at a genuine federaliza- 
tion of the entire Habsburg Monarchy, the Magyar domain 
included. 

Negotiations were carried on for a new Magyar Coalition Cabi- 
net. Different leaders were offered the Premiership but declined. 
Count Michael Karolyi advised the Emperor to summon a Cabinet 
consisting of Radicals and Socialists, and refused to co-operate with 
the representatives of the old system. On 14 October Wekerle for- 
mally resigned, but next day withdrew his resignation on condition 
that a special clause guaranteeing Hungary's territorial integrity 
was inserted in the coming Imperial Proclamation federalizing 
Austria. In the Hungarian Delegations, 12 Michael Karolyi de- 
manded the immediate declaration of Hungary's complete indepen- 
dence and the abolition of all institutions common to Hungary and 
Austria. On Tisza's motion, however, the Delegations adjourned 
until an answer was received from President Wilson. They too had 
to wait. 

27. The Federalizing Manifesto of 16 October. In spite of the 
refusal of the different Austrian nationalities to join a Recon- 
struction Cabinet, an attempt was made to do something which 
might look like realizing Point 10 of President Wilson, and might 
perhaps preserve Austria's existence. 13 An Imperial Manifesto, dated 
1 6 October, proclaimed the federalization of Austria: it was counter- 
signed by the same Hussarek who on 1 1 September had declared the 
Government's 'determination to preserve a united Austrian State', 
on i October had talked in very vague terms about national auto- 
nomy, and even on 8 October had refrained from explaining the 
nature and extent of the autonomy to be conceded. 'Now the recon- 
struction of the Fatherland on its natural and therefore most reliable 
foundations must be undertaken without delay,' read the Manifesto. 
'The wishes of the Austrian nationalities are to be carefully har- 
monized and a beginning must be made to realize them Austria, 

in accordance with the will of her nationalities, is to become a 
federal State in which every nationality within its own territory 

12 The Delegations were Committees of the Austrian and Hungarian Parlia- 
ments set up to deal with affairs which the two States had in common. 

13 Point 10: 'The peoples of Austria-Hungary, whose place among the 
nations we wish to see safeguarded and assured, should be accorded the freest 
opportunity of autonomous development. 9 



150 VANISHED SUPREMACIES 

forms its own commonwealth. This is not to prejudice in any way 
the union of the Polish territories of Austria with the independent 
Polish State. The town of Trieste and its territory, in accordance 
with the wishes of its inhabitants, receives a special position. The 
reconstruction, which in no way infringes the integrity of the coun- 
tries belonging to the Holy Crown of Hungary, is to secure inde- 
pendence to every single State, but also effectively to protect the 
common interests. ... I call upon the nations. ... to co-operate in 
the great task through National Councils consisting of the members 
who represent each nationality in the Reichsrat, and to secure the 
interests of the nations as against each other and in relation to my 
government. . . .' The Emperor and his Government thus acknow- 
ledged themselves extraneous to the national States, but still tried to 
maintain themselves through the administrative machinery; not a 
word was said in the Manifesto of national governments, the indis- 
pensable, logical corollary to the new national States. 

On the day before the Manifesto was published it was to have 
been read by the Prime Minister to the leaders of the different 
nationalities in Parliament. The Czechs refused to appear at the 
meeting, the Polish leaders were away at Warsaw, the Ukrainians, 
expecting a Polish attempt to declare East Galicia e Polish territory', 
protested against the vagueness of the Manifesto, the Yugoslavs, who 
put in an appearance, declared their solidarity with the Czechs. On 
1 6 October the Czechs and Yugoslavs made a common statement 
in the Delegations for Foreign Affairs. They 'irrevocably insisted 
that the Czecho-Slovak and Yugoslav questions being international 
problems could be satisfactorily solved at the general Peace Confer- 
ence alone', and that 'previous to the publication of President Wil- 
son's answer to the Austro-Hungarian peace offer all discussion of 
the proposals contained in the Imperial Manifesto was devoid of 
practical value. . ,'.On 19 October the Czech National Committee 
in Prague and the Yugoslav National Council in Zagreb confirmed 
the declaration, once for all refusing any further discussions with 
Vienna or Budapest. 

On the same day on which the Manifesto was signed (16 Octo- 
ber), Wekerle declared in the Hungarian Parliament that in view 
of the federalization of Austria the connexion between the two 
States would in future be reduced to personal union, and Hungary 
would have to settle her political and economic problems on a com- 
pletely independent basis. Within Hungary the nationalities were 
offered nothing beyond language rights ; the unity and integrity of 
the Magyar State were to be preserved. Dr. A. Vaida-Voevod, sub- 



THE DOWNFALL OF THE HABSBURG MONARCHY 15! 

sequently Rumanian Prime Minister, replied by demanding com- 
plete and free self-determination for the Hungarian Rumans, and 
denied the claim of the Hungarian Parliament and Government to 
represent them. A similar declaration was made in the name of the 
Slovaks by their representative Father Juriga. 

28. Developments in Poland. It had been necessary to leave out 
the Poles from the Imperial Manifesto of 16 October, because the 
thirteenth of President Wilson's Points, accepted on 4 October both 
by Germany and Austria-Hungary, stipulated that 'an independent 
Polish state should be erected which should include the territories 
inhabited by indisputably Polish populations. . . .' On 7 October the 
Polish Regency Council at Warsaw, formed in the autumn of 1916 
from among the most conciliatory elements, drew the obvious con- 
clusions from the Note of the Central Powers (and also from the 
speech of the new German Chancellor Prince Max of Baden, who 
on 5 October had declared in favour of freely elected Diets in the 
occupied territories in the East), and published a Manifesto to the 
Polish nation foreshadowing the formation of a representative 
National Government and the summoning of a Polish Diet. The 
Manifesto finished with the watchword of c a free and re-united 
Poland'. On 15 October the Polish representatives in the Austrian 
Delegations declared in the name of all the Polish members of the 
Austrian Reichsrat that they henceforth considered themselves 'sub- 
jects and citizens of a free and re-united Polish State'. They called 
on the Austro-Hungarian Government to undertake the necessary 
steps for realizing the principles of President Wilson and for clearly 
defining the right of the Polish nation to participate in the general 
Peace Conference. On the same day the leaders of the Galician 
Poles were summoned by the Regency Council to Warsaw to take 
part in forming the new Polish Government. 

Its formation met with peculiar difficulties. The National Demo- 
crats, who had the full support of the French Government, tried to 
proscribe their political opponents among the Conservatives and 
moderates, and to reduce the radical Left to a decorative place in a 
predominantly National Democrat Government. After long-drawn 
negotiations the Regency Council surrendered to the National 
Democrats, and on 19 October one of their leaders was entrusted 
with the formation of a new Cabinet, of which the list was accepted 
by the Regency Council on the 23rd. The Left refused any share in 
that Government, which thus came to consist exclusively of members 
and friends of the National Democrat party. M. Stanislas Glombin- 
ski, their leader in Galicia, became Minister for Foreign Affairs, and 



1^2 VANISHED SUPREMACIES 

on 24 October despatched the following wire to the German Secre- 
tary of State, Dr. Solf, and the Austro-Hungarian Minister for 
Foreign Affairs, Count Burian: 'Assuming the office of Minister for 
Foreign Affairs, I desire to assure Your Excellency of my best inten- 
tions to maintain friendly relations between our neighbour States' 
a peculiar performance on the part of a man and group which at 
that time claimed a monopoly in relations with the Entente. 

29. East Galicia. On 28 October a conference of the Austrian- 
Polish representatives met at Cracow and elected a commission to 
wind up Galicia's relations with Austria. Representatives of the 
3,200,000 Ruthenes do not seem to have been invited, nor of the 
National Jews a majority among the 900,000 Galician Jews. 
Nevertheless the Polish Liquidation Committee set out to act for the 
entire country and, under the leadership of the National Democrats, 
resolved within five days to transfer its seat from Cracow to Lvov 
a provocation to the Ruthenes. 

The Ruthene members of the Austrian Reichsrat, at a meeting in 
Vienna on 10 October, had decided to summon a conference of 
representatives from all Ruthene territories of Austria-Hungary to 
Lvov for the i8th. Meantime the Imperial Manifesto was pub- 
lished on the 1 6th. Having met, the conference elected a Ukrainian 
National Council, to act as c the Constituent Assembly of the part 
of the Ukrainian nation inhabiting territories of the Austro- 
Hungarian Monarchy. . . .' The Ukrainian Socialists pressed for 
immediate reunion with the Russian Ukraine and, when out-voted, 
left the Assembly; the moderate parties, obviously afraid of plunging 
into the chaos of the Russian Ukraine, preferred first to organize 
the government and administration of their own territories. 'The 
Ukrainian National Council has the right and duty, at a time which 
it will consider proper, to exercise the right of self-determination for 
the Ukrainian people and to decide with which State to unite the 
territories inhabited by Ukrainians/ Next day the National Council 
decided to form the Ukrainian territories of Austria-Hungary into 
a separate State, to invite the Polish and Jewish national minorities 
inhabiting these territories to send representatives to the Council, to 
prepare for summoning a Diet elected by universal suffrage on the 
proportional system, and to grant cultural autonomy and a share in 
the government to national minorities; lastly, to demand direct 
representation at the Peace Conference, denying to Count Burian 
the right to represent them. 

By 2 November the Polish Liquidation Commission was to have 
met at Lvov, the capital of East Galicia. The Ukrainian 



THE DOWNFALL OF THE HABSBURG MONARCHY 153 

National Council forestalled them. In the early morning of i Novem- 
ber Ukrainian troops, acting under orders from the Council, occu- 
pied the government buildings at Lvov, and the Council 
assumed the government of East Galicia. The Polish minority 
refused to accept the offers of the Ukrainians, and on the same day 
fighting commenced between them. 

30. President Wilson's Reply to Austria-Hungary. President 
Wilson's answer to the Austro-Hungarian Note of 7 October was 
published on the <nst. The Note, dated 18 October, explained that 
the President could not entertain the suggestion of the Austro-Hun- 
garian government 'because of certain events of the utmost impor- 
tance which, occurring since the delivery of his Address of Janu- 
ary 8th last, have necessarily altered the attitude and responsibility 

of the Government of the United States ' Having recognized the 

Czecho-Slovaks as a belligerent nation and their National Council 
as 'a de facto belligerent government', and having 'also recognized 
in the fullest manner the justice of the nationalistic aspirations of the 
Jugo-Slavs for freedom 5 , the President is 'no longer at liberty to 
accept a mere "autonomy" of these peoples as a basis of peace, but 
is obliged to insist that they, and not he, shall be the judges of what 
action on the part of the Austro-Hungarian Government will satisfy 
their aspirations and their conception of their rights and destiny 
as members of the family of nations.' 

The verdict broke the last links in Austria-Hungary's structure. 
The Czecho-Slovaks and Yugoslavs were acknowledged as inde- 
pendent nations, the frontier between Austria and Hungary was 
obliterated, the two States on which the Austro-Hungarian Govern- 
ment based its existence were no more. Austria was reduced to its 
German, Hungary to its Magyar, territory. The complex structure 
raised on the historic imperialisms of the dominant races and on the 
Imperial traditions of the Habsburgs was shattered. The Austro- 
Hungarian Common Ministries, the nondescript, nationally anony- 
mous Austrian Government, and even the national Magyar Govern- 
ment of Hungary, were of a world which had vanished overnight. 

On 21 October, in a Manifesto dated the i8th, and signed by 
Professor Masaryk, Dr. Stefanik, and Dr. Benes, the Czecho-Slovak 
National Council in Paris published a Declaration of Independence 
and constituted itself the Czecho-Slovak Provisional Government. It 
declared that 'federalization, and still more "autonomy" would 
mean nothing under a Habsburg', that the Czecho-Slovak nation 
refuses c any longer to remain a part of Austria-Hungary in any 
form', and denied all Habsburg claims 'to rule in Czecho-Slovak 



154 VANISHED SUPREMACIES 

land, which we here and now declare shall henceforth be a free and 
independent people and nation 5 . 

The Czecho-Slovak and Yugoslav Councils in Prague and Zagreb 
which had already refused to negotiate with Vienna and Budapest 
previous to the general Peace Conference, could now gain nothing 
by discussing either the constitution or the exact frontier of their 
States with the enemy Powers in the absence of the Allies. They 
demanded once more that alien troops should be withdrawn from 
their provinces, their own regiments allowed to return to their home- 
lands, and the administration of Czecho-Slovak and Yugoslav terri- 
tories handed over to their National Councils. In fact, the Czechs 
did not await permission. Many civil servants henceforth treated 
the National Council as their government; e.g. most of the railway 
employees in the Czech districts were Czechs, and these, ordered by 
their leaders, began to control food transports to Vienna. They in- 
stituted what the Germans described as a Czech blockade, a for- 
midable weapon against a half -starved city. The central authorities 
were daily losing power over the non-German provinces. 

31 . German Austria. On 2 1 October, the day on which President 
Wilson's Note was published, the German member of the Austrian 
Reichsrat, following up the Imperial Manifesto of 16 October, met 
in the building of the Lower Austrian Diet. They could no longer 
shirk the question what their own relations should be to the old, 
non-national Austrian authorities, the legacy of a vanishing Empire. 
The resolutions as passed, and still more some of the speeches de- 
livered in the German National Assembly, clearly went beyond the 
terms of reference drawn by the Manifesto. 'The German people 
in Austria, 9 began the unanimously adopted resolutions, 'will itself 
determine its future State organization, form an independent 
German- Austrian State, and by free agreement settle its relations to 
the other nationalities.' The Imperial Austrian Government, which 
had offered its guidance to the nationalities, was passed over in 
silence. Then the claim to all territory inhabited by Germans was 
reasserted, the German districts in the Czech provinces being specially 
mentioned. The summoning of a German-Austrian Constituent 
Assembly was foreshadowed, but not a word was said to safeguard 
the monarchical principle ; in fact the Habsburgs were never men- 
tioned. 'Until a National Constituent Assembly meets, the Pro- 
visional National Assembly claims the right to represent the German 
people of Austria at the peace negotiations, to carry on negotiations 
with the other nationalities for the transfer of the administration to 
the new national States and concerning the mutual relations to be 



THE DOWNFALL OF THE HABSBURG MONARCHY 155 

established between them . . .' Again the Austro-Hungarian and the 
Austrian Governments were passed over in silence. They appeared 
only in the resolution setting up an Executive Committee which, 
'until the German-Austrian Government is formed, is to represent 
the Austrian Germans in relations with the Austro-Hungarian and 
the Austrian Governments, and with the other nationalities. . . .' All 
alike were treated as extraneous. 

The Socialists, although they held only about one-fif th of the seats 
in the National Assembly, were clearly the driving force. They 
represented the organized labour masses, and had a moral ascen- 
dancy over the German Nationalists and the Habsburgite Clericals 
whose past policy had resulted in national collapse and humiliation. 
Victor Adler, the Socialist leader, in a speech delivered at the first 
meeting of the National Assembly, voiced the new spirit rising 
among the Austrian Germans. 'The German people in Austria will 
form its own democratic State . . . which is freely to decide how to 
settle its relations with the neighbouring nationalities and with the 
German Empire. It will form a free confederation with the neigh- 
bouring nationalities, if they wish it. Should they refuse or make 
conditions incompatible with the economic and national interests of 
the German people, the German-Austrian State, which by itself is 
an economically impossible formation, will be compelled as a separ- 
ate State to enter the German Empire. We demand for the German- 
Austrian State full freedom to choose between these two possible 
connexions.' He went on to state that the Socialists in the Consti- 
tuent Assembly would declare for a republic. Meantime the 
Assembly, disregarding the bankrupt Habsburg institutions, should 
form a German-Austrian Government. 'The other nationalities will 
be represented at the Peace Conference; nor can the German 
people leave its interests in the hands of a diplomacy alien to the 
people. The German-Austrian Government is immediately to get in 
touch with the Slav nations of Austria and enter into direct negotia- 
tions with President Wilson for an armistice and peace. Lastly, it is 
to take over the administration of German Austria.* 

Adler's speech declared for German-Austrian independence and 
renounced the Habsburg connexion. The Christian Socialists and 
most of the German Nationalists did not as yet go the whole way, 
still it was half-heartedly that they demurred. The idea was set forth, 
and in these days of quick maturing was to be realized sooner than 
the Socialists themselves expected. 

32. The Austrian Reichsrat. Quaint interludes were supplied in 
the second half of October by occasional sittings of the Austrian 



156 VANISHED SUPREMACIES 

Reichsrat, where men seemed to meet to register the degree reached 
in the decline of the State. The meetings were badly attended and 
the discussions were perfunctory and futile. The process of Austria's 
recasting was carried on in the national capitals, the centre was 
dead. On 22 October the Reichsrat was asked by Count Burian to 
appoint a Committee for Foreign Affairs which would assist the 
Austro-Hungarian representatives at the Peace Conference. The 
request was refused by all the nationalities. Oppositions in parlia- 
ment are used to moving futile resolutions without hope to see 
them accepted or realized it's part of the job. In October 1918 
the governing circles in Vienna found themselves in opposition to 
reality. 

33. The Crisis in Hungary. In a very different spirit did the Hun- 
garian Parliament, representative of Magyar nationalism, watch 
the growing danger to their domain. They were sitting on 23 Octo- 
ber when news was received that the ygth Croat Regiment had 
mutinied at Fiume. This followed on Yugoslav national demonstra- 
tions at Zagreb. A storm broke out in the House; the sitting was sus- 
pended; a Cabinet Council was called; meanwhile the opposition 
members met in the reception hall of Parliament. It was generally 
felt that a new line had to be struck both on foreign and internal 
policy and this could not possibly be done by the exponents of the 
old, now discredited, system. Wekerle himself felt it, and although 
sure of a majority in the House only the day before Tisza's party 
had fused with his followers he did not feel equal to shouldering 
the responsibility any longer. When the House reassembled in the 
evening, he announced the resignation of his Cabinet. 'I shall sub- 
mit to His Majesty a proposal for summoning a new government 
which would include representatives of all the parties in this House 
and possibly of national forces outside' (under the narrow Hun- 
garian class franchise the Socialists had no seats in Parliament). 
The Cabinet crisis which followed had necessarily a revolutionary 
tendency. Out of the class Parliament there could emerge no govern- 
ment very different from the one which had resigned; while no 
government answering the supposed needs of the moment and the 
popular demands of the capital (a disproportionately prominent 
element in revolutions) could have maintained itself in that Parlia- 
ment. The parties of the Left, under the leadership of Count 
Michael Karolyi, decided to form a National Council, a popular 
quasi-Parliament as a base for a Revolutionary Government, should 
the oligarchs refuse to surrender; further, they demanded that the 
complete independence of Hungary be proclaimed, a Hungarian 



THE DOWNFALL OF THE HABSBURG MONARCHY 157 

Minister for Foreign Affairs appointed, the alliance with Germany 
denounced, and a separate peace concluded. 

Immediately on the fall of Wekerle, Count Burian, another 
nominee of the Magyar oligarchy, resigned office. Count Julius 
Andrassy, who, though himself of the oligarchal group, had for per- 
sonal reasons always been opposed to Tisza, was appointed Burian's 
successor. All his life he had dreamt of filling the place which his 
father had held 1871-9, and he had striven for it by hard work 
and intrigue. When at last he got hold of the wheel there was nothing 
to steer any more. 'From various quarters I am asked', he said in 
an interview with the Neue Freie Presse on 25 October, 'how a 
Common Minister for Foreign Affairs can be appointed when work 
on the separation of Austria and Hungary has begun. In this there 
is no contradiction. Until the Act of 1867 is changed, nothing but a 
Common Minister for Foreign Affairs is conceivable or possible.' 

34. l Das Liquidurungskabinett? On 23 October the Emperor 
went to Budapest. The 25th was spent in negotiations with An- 
drassy and Michael Karolyi. On the same day it was announced 
that Professor Larnmasch was to become Austrian Prime Minister. 
Pacifists were to be given office in both States in a faint hope that 
they might succeed in administering artificial respiration to the 
corpses. During the Lisbon earthquake of 1755 a man hawked anti- 
earthquake pills, in October 1918 the Emperor Charles changed his 
ministers. On the 26th he returned to Vienna with Karolyi, and 
negotiations were continued with Andrassy and Lammasch. On 
27 October Hussarek's resignation was officially accepted, and 
Lammasch took over most of his Cabinet; the only new man of 
mark was the Minister of Finance, Dr. J, Redlich another old, 
deserving ambition realized in a Cabinet posthumous to the State. 
From the outset the new government was described as ein Liquidier- 
ungskabinett, liquidators of a bankrupt concern. They were to assist 
in the transfer of administration to the national governments, and 
try to preserve a place for the Habsburgs and a central government. 
But even for liquidation they were not wanted: the State was break- 
ing up of itself. 

On 24 October the Executive Committee of the German-Austrian 
National Assembly had notified the central authorities that they con- 
sidered themselves to be the provisional government of the German- 
Austrian State; they had proposed that a joint Committee be formed 
by the different National Councils to carry on common affairs; and 
that the armistice should be concluded by them in common, but the 
peace negotiations conducted by each separately. The Austrian 



158 VANISHED SUPREMACIES 

Government was no longer deemed competent to deal even with the 
problems which from their nature were common to its successors. 
The remnant of a power which they no longer recognized, it had 
no mandate from any one. 

The appointment of Michael Karolyi as Hungarian Premier did 
not materialize because of disagreements between him and An- 
drassy. Archduke Joseph was appointed homo regius to conduct at 
Budapest further negotiations for a new Premier and Cabinet. 

35. The Military Collapse. New frontiers were rising between the 
Successor States of Austria-Hungary, and every frontier threatened 
to become a battle-front. In each State the people demanded a con- 
centration of its troops to enforce its will and claims, and no thought 
was given to the military fronts of the late Habsburg Monarchy. 
The war-weary troops listened to news from home, and felt that the 
force or idea which had sent them to those fronts had irrevocably 
perished. 

36. Andrdssy's Peace Offer. On 27 October Andrdssy despatched 
via Stockholm his answer to President Wilson's Note of 18 October. 
The Austro-Hungarian Government declared that 'as in the case of 
the preceding statements of the President it also adheres to his point 
of view, as laid down in his last note, regarding the rights of the 
peoples of Austria-Hungary, particularly those of the Czecho- 
slovaks and the Yugoslavs'. It further declared its readiness 'with- 
out awaiting the result of other negotiations, to enter into pour- 
parlers in regard to peace between Austria-Hungary and the States 
of the opposing side.' Thus they acknowledged the independence 
of the Czecho-Slovaks and Yugoslavs and offered to enter into 
negotiations independently of Germany who had been given about 
twenty-four hours' notice of the impending demarche. 

On 28 October, the day after the Note had been sent to Washing- 
ton by the usual intermediary of a neutral State, but also the day 
after the Allies had crossed the Piave, Andr&ssy despatched a wire 
direct to Mr. Lansing endorsing all the points of President Wilson, 
declaring that preparations had already been made to give the fullest 
scope to the self-determination of the peoples of Austria and of 
Hungary, and asking the American Government to bring about 'an 
immediate armistice on all the Austro-Hungarian fronts and to 
initiate peace negotiations'. The same Note was sent to the British, 
French, Italian, and Japanese Governments. 

However much the Notes tried formally to assert the continued 
existence of the Habsburg Monarchy, by their contents they 
admitted the end of Austria-Hungary to have come. For them to 



THE DOWNFALL OF THE HABSBURG MONARCHY 159 

agree with President Wilson's description of the Czechoslovaks as 
an independent nation at war with the German and Austro- 
Hungarian Empires was not devoid of involuntary humour. To offer 
negotiations apart from Germany was as undignified as it was futile. 
It was believed at the time, perhaps with reason, that this was done 
under pressure from Michael Karolyi who had always been an 
opponent of the alliance with Germany; but Julius Andrassy signed 
'the Note, he who throughout the War had been one of the strongest 
advocates of Mittel-Europaiht son of the man who in 1879 had 
concluded with Bismarck the alliance between Austria-Hungary and 
Germany. 

37. Czechoslovak and Yugoslav Independence (28-29 October 
1918). In Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia the reply of the Austro- 
Hungarian Government to President Wilson's Note of 18 October 
gave the signal for a final break with the Habsburg Monarchy. Not 
even German or Magyar troops, or whoever else might have previ- 
ously been inclined to defend its existence, could any longer oppose 
the revolutionary action of the Czechoslovaks and Yugoslavs after 
the Emperor and his Government had officially before the entire 
world acknowledged the existence and independence of these States. 
In Prague the Executive Committee of the National Council met on 
28 October, and after a short sitting went to the Governor's office to 
declare that they took over the administration of the country. The 
officials promised to obey their orders and put themselves completely 
at the service of the National Council. The same was done by the 
police, and at 8.30 p.m. the general commanding the troops sur- 
rendered his command to the National Council At 9.30 p.m. the 
town was entered by the 28th Prague Regiment, which in 1915 had 
been disbanded because some of its companies had by previous 
arrangement crossed over to the Russians. Everywhere the crowds 
which gathered in the streets removed the Imperial Eagles and 
other emblems of the Habsburg Monarchy and of the Austrian 
State, and replaced them by national colours and emblems. Similar 
scenes occurred throughout the Czech and Yugoslav provinces. The 
movement was spontaneous and general. The meaning of the Austro- 
Hungarian answer to President Wilson's Note of 18 October was 
obvious, and so were the conclusions to be drawn from it. There 
was no need to work out the logical absurdities of the Austro- 
Hungarian Government acknowledging Czecho-Slovak and Yugo- 
slav independence. They were felt and the psychological break with 
Austria was complete. 

On 29 October the Croat Diet met and a resolution was carried 



l6o VANISHED SUPREMACIES 

that 'Dalmatia, Croatia and Slavonia with Fiume are ... a State 
completely independent of Hungary and Austria and . . . join the 
common national and sovereign State of the Slovenes, Croats, and 
Serbs.' The Generals commanding the military forces in Croatia 
accepted the change, the Serb prisoners of war were released and 
enrolled in the National Guard, and the same day a new govern- 
ment for Croatia, Slavonia, and Dalmatia was formed. In the course 
of 30 October the arrangements for taking over the civil and mili- 
tary power in the Czecho-Slovak and Yugoslav territories by their 
national governments were completed, and the Czecho-Slovak 
Government notified the Austrian Prime Minister that Dr. Tusar 
had been appointed Czecho-Slovak diplomatic representative in 
Vienna. Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia, in name as in fact, be- 
came independent States. The national leaders had to restrain rather 
than rouse the masses: these were revolutions, generally bloodless 
since no resistance was offered. 

38. Revolution in Budapest (28-31 October 1918). On 28 Octo- 
ber a National Council was formed in Budapest by the parties of the 
Left, and the idea was canvassed of proclaiming Michael Karolyi 
Prime Minister of Hungary. Fighting occurred in the streets. The 
excitement of the masses was growing. Soldiers and officers joined 
the mob. The police declared that they would no longer do political 
service. On 29 October Count Hadik, a mild oligarch of the 
Andrassy type, was appointed Premier and assumed office on the 
30th. He invited the Socialist Executive to negotiate with him but 
was told to apply to the National Council as they would not act 
independently. Soldiers* Councils were formed at Budapest. In the 
night of 30 October a rumour spread from barrack to barrack that 
the general commanding Budapest had ordered the dissolution of 
these Councils and the arrest of their members. The troops decided 
to offer resistance. Officers and soldiers put themselves under the 
command of the National Council and occupied a number of im- 
portant government buildings. On the 3ist at 8 a.m. Archduke 
Joseph, the homo regius, received Michael Karolyi. The Archduke 
claimed to have asked a few hours earlier that Karolyi should be 
made Premier. In the course of the next hour Karolyi received by 
telephone his appointment from the Emperor. Once more an 
attempt was made by the vanishing Empire to reassert its existence 
by formally acknowledging accomplished facts. Still Karolyi's 
Government, arising from the self-appointed National Council of 
the Left and composed of none but its members, was clearly revolu- 
tionary in character, and the fact that Karolyi had taken the oath 



THE DOWNFALL OF THE HABSBURG MONARCHY l6l 

to the King (Charles was King in Hungary) roused dissatisfaction 
among the republicans, who were gaining strength. On 2 November 
Karolyi announced in the National Council that, seeing the people's 
wish freely to settle the future constitution of Hungary, the Govern- 
ment had addressed a request to the King to absolve them from 
their oath of loyalty. 'We received the answer that the King 
absolved the Government of their oath.' Karolyi was a Magyar 
aristocrat, punctilious in matters of constitutional law even while 
leading a revolution, like the Whig lords of 1688. Archduke Joseph, 
on the other hand, preferred the part of Philippe-figalite. 'Absolved 
from his oath' to his Monarch and cousin, he enthusiastically swore 
in his own name (from now onward plain Joseph Habsburg) and in 
that of his son a new oath to the Hungarian nation. Anything to 
keep afloat. 

Count Stephen Tisza, the grim Calvinist who had ruled Hungary 
in the days of her strength and greatness, an iron ruler and devoted 
servant, a master mind entangled in the absurdities of Hungary's 
politics, lived long enough to see the coming end, but was spared the 
pain of watching the ill-fated work of the small, weak, muddle- 
headed men whom he had despised, insulted, and bullied all his 
life. On 31 October, at 6 p.m., soldiers forced their way into Tisza's 
house and entered the drawing-room where he was with his wife and 
his sister-in-law Countess Almassy. Tisza stepped forward to meet 
them, unflinching to the last. After a few words had been exchanged, 
he was shot dead. His last words were: C I die. It had to be.' 

39. The End of the Austrian Reichsrat (30 October 1918). The 
Lammasch Cabinet was to have met the Austrian Reichsrat on 
30 October. The conference of party leaders which assembled pre- 
vious to the sitting did not press for a regular meeting of the 
House. Austria was dead but the time had not yet come for the 
formal registration of the fact. The House met at n a.m. and, 
'because of the existing conditions,' adjourned at 11.10 a.m., the 
date for its reassembly being fixed for 1 2 November. When its Ger- 
man members and some ten members of other nationality, mostly 
stray black sheep, met on that day, in view of 'the fact that Austria 
had ceased to exist' and 'the House had no further functions to per- 
form', it adjourned 'without fixig a day for its next sitting'. 

40. Revolution in Vienna (30-31 October). When the German- 
Austrian National Assembly met on 30 October the German- 
Austrian State had been formed by the action of its neighbours. 
Czecho-Slovakia, Yugoslavia, and Hungary were independent. But 
there remained an Austro-Hungarian Foreign Minister in Vienna 



162 VANISHED SUPREMACIES 

who offered, in whose name no one knew, to negotiate peace with 
the Allies apart from Germany. Even the Christian Socialists, pre- 
viously ardent Habsburgites, had not the courage to defend the Note 
of 27 October. 'The nation to which the Minister for Foreign 
Affairs belongs 5 , declared one of their leaders, 'has refused all fur- 
ther connexion with Austria, and it is therefore extraordinarily diffi- 
cult for the [Austrian] Germans to accept any one of that nation for 
representative of their interests/ The spokesman of the Socialists 
openly atacked c the dynasty and the Hungarian feudal magnates' 
who 'choose the present moment for deserting Germany and stab- 
bing German democracy in the back'. 'These gentlemen come too 
late to acquire merit in bringing about peace. All they achieve is 
cold, shameful betrayal, the proverbial gratitude of the House of 
Austria. The Magyar feudal lords pose as lovers of freedom and 
decide in favour of personal union. No one sheds a tear for the 
Dualist system which had long outlived itself. As to personal union 

we do not care either for the union or for the personnel The 

dynasty plans to gain over the Czechs and Yugoslavs at the expense 
of the Germans. We shall never admit that even a shadow of a 
German national interest should be sacrificed to that of the dynasty. 
. . . The German Socialists consider that the nation cannot be 
guarded against such dynastic schemings except by German Austria 
constituting itself a republic. From this point of view we ask 
once more: in whose name has Count Andr&ssy sent his Note? 
He has nothing to declare or offer in the name of the German 
people. 5 

A provisional constitution was voted for German Austria, and the 
German-Austrian National Assembly declared that it alone and its 
organs were authorized to speak for the German-Austrian people in 
matters of foreign policy and to represent them at the peace negotia- 
tions. A proclamation was issued to the German people of Austria. 
'The German-Austrian National Assembly has voted to-day the 
fundamental law of the new German-Austrian State. A Council of 
State will immediately appoint the first German- Austrian Govern- 
ment, which is to conduct peace negotiations and assume the 
administration of the German districts of Austria and the command 
of the German troops ' 

On the same day enormous crowds marched through the streets 
of Vienna raising cries for a German- Austrian Republic and singing 
socialist revolutionary songs and, here and there, also the Wacht am 
Rhein. Revolutionary excitement was growing throughout the coun- 
try. The Socialist party was leading the way, the other parties, 



THE DOWNFALL OF THE HABSBURG MONARCHY 163 

especially the German Nationalists, in view of the Emperor's offer 
to abandon Germany, had no heart to resist. 

The first Government of German Austria was appointed by the 
Council of State on 31 October, without any reference to the 
Emperor. 

41. The Austrian 'Staatsidee' once more. On I November the 
Hungarian Government ordered the Hungarian troops at all the 
fronts to lay down arms ; on the 3rd the Austro-Hungarian Military 
Command signed an armistice which amounted to unconditional 
surrender. The Austro-Hungarian Army, the oldest and last bulwark 
of the Habsburg Monarchy, had ceased to exist. 'The End of the 
Military Monarchy' was the title of a leading article in the Ar belter- 
Zeitung of 3 November, expressive of the frame of mind in which 
the Habsburg nationalities were at the close of the War. 

The armies melt away, ail territory is given over to the enemy, he 
need not conquer any more, for there is no one for him to fight. The 
Hungarian Minister for War has ordered all Hungarian troops to lay 
down arms. The most important harbours have called in enemy 
fleets. . . . The Italians will not conclude an armistice except on terms 
such as have seldom marked the end of a war. This is the end of the 
war which Austria-Hungary had arrogantly provoked, and this is the 
end of the military Monarchy. A shameful end, this War and its 
conclusion, but truly worthy of her existence, the end she deserved. 
For all the wars which Austria-Hungary has conducted and an 
infinite amount of blood has been shed by her rulers were made 
only to maintain the dynastic power, to preserve its glory, to assert 
its importance. What business had Austria in Germany, or, still 
more, in Italy? , . . How did we get to Bosnia-Herzegovina? German 
Austria protested against its occupation, the Magyars did not want 

it, but it answered the needs of the dynastic power The dynasty 

needed compensation, a substitute for the 'subjects' whom it had 
lost in Germany and Italy. . . . For centuries it had impeded German 
unity; it had been an obstacle to the union of Italy; it had to obstruct 
the Serb national cause, for such was its vocation. . . . The end of 
the military Monarchy, be it shameful beyond expression, does not 
move our hearts. ... An edifice of lies collapses, a system of dynastic 
power, which has been a plague to the world ever since it started on 
its infamous course, has reached its term in the world's history. All 
wrappings fall from the State Idea and here it stands in its naked- 
ness . . . With what insolence has the legend about the loyalty of all 
the nationalities been drummed into the world throughout history, 
and especially during the War, and with what insolence was the 
world told that the nationalities were glad to belong to the Habs- 
burgs. And now that the force is broken which had bound them all 



164 VANISHED SUPREMACIES 

and it was nothing but force which bound them together now 
that they can speak and act as they think and feel, their true feelings 
for Austria break forth like a flood : hatred against that Austria, joy 
to be rid of her. In the Czechs, Poles, Slovenes, Groats, Italians, not 
a shadow of grief can be found, not a trace of the feeling that a bond 
has broken which had existed for centuries, no emotion, no sadness, 
no woe, none of the sentiments which even prisoners feel on leaving 
gaol. And this state of things, which cannot be the growth of a day, 
but in its origins must reach back for years and tens of years, had 
been painted to the world as the happy and united Austria where 
all the nations prayed to God to bless whatever Emperor there was, 
finding their ecstatic happiness in having him for ruler. And for 
this lie of a State Idea, for a Monarchy which the nations fly like an 
evil, we have made the War, millions and millions have shed their 
blood, our present and our future have been sacrificed. 

42. The End of the Monarchy (9-16 November). On 9 Novem- 
ber the German Emperor and the Crown Prince resigned the thrones 
of Germany and Prussia. On the nth the Emperor Charles re- 
nounced all share in the government of German Austria without, 
however, explicitly renouncing the Crown; he merely promised to 
submit to the verdict of the people whatever it might be. C I do not 
want to be an obstacle to the free development of my peoples. I 
recognize beforehand the decision which German Austria will make 
as regards her future constitution. ... I renounce all share in the 
business of the State. Simultaneously I relieve my Austrian Govern- 
ment of office.' So too, on 13 November, he renounced all share in 
the government of Hungary, recognizing beforehand any decision 
she might take as regards her constitution, though refusing to abdi- 
cate. 

On 12 November the Council of State decreed German Austria c a 
democratic Republic 3 and c a component part of the German Repub- 
lic 3 . On the 1 6th a Republic was proclaimed in Hungary. The last 
Successor States of the Habsburg Monarchy had renounced their 
Habsburg allegiance. 



XI 

BASIC FACTORS IN NINETEENTH- 
CENTURY EUROPEAN HISTORY 



THE basic factors which I have in mind concern the political history 
of Europe in its international aspects during the period 1815-1919, 
the nineteenth century of European history. That century and its 
aftermath witnessed on the Continent the triumph^ 
nationality, and of democracy in the sense of a levelling of classes 
rather than of constitutional growth; and it was foremost nationality 
and the struggles engendered by it that in Central and Eastern 
Europe defeated the movement toward ^ sjejf^overnmentjjQd liberty. 
'The language chart is our Magna Charta,' was the slogan of 
nationalism on the European Continent; and a comparison of the 
political map of Europe in 1920, and still more in 1945, with that 
of 1815 shows that, by and large, the program has been realized, 
though hardly with the results its enthusiasts had anticipated: the 
operation was successful, but at what cost to the patient? I propose 
to examine the patterns that can be discerned in the seemingly con- 
fused historical process which recast the map of Europe on a linguis~_ 
tic basis. I refrain from inquiring into the sense of the envenomed 
struggles we have witnessed; for such inquiry would take us into 
inscrutable depths or into an airy void. Possibly there is no more 
sense in human history than in the changes of the seasons or the 
movements of the stars ; or if sense there be, it escapes our perception. 
But the historian, when watching strands' interlace and entwine and 
their patterns intersect, seeks for the logic of situations and the 
rhythm of events which invest them at least with a determinist 
meaning. 

The political problems of the European Continent in the nine- 
teenth century were posed by the French Revolution; and the basic 
change which it ushered in was the transition from dynastic to 

165 



l66 VANISHED SUPREMACIES 

national sovereignty, and a progressive widening of the political 
nation' from the privileged orders to democracy, till the nation came 
to comprise, in theory at least, the entire people. The emphasis of 
dynastic sovereignty, quasi-proprietary in character, was on the 
territory of the State; the emphasis of national sovereignty was on 
the human community which postulated that a true sense of com- 
munity should weld the population into one people. From the prin- 
ciple of national sovereignty spring constitutional movements and 
national demands, claims to self-government and to self-determina- 
tion. In appearance these had cognate aims, a delusion fostered by 
their having that common source, and a common opponent in auto- 
cracy based on dynastic heritage. In practice, however, there is an 
antithesis between self-government, which means constitutional de- 
velopment within an existing territorial framework, and self-deter- 
mination for which there is no occasion unless that framework is 
called in question and territorial changes are demanded; and acute 
disputes concerning the territorial framework naturally retard, or 
even preclude, constitutional development. 

In linguistically mixed regions delimitation is a thorny problem 
even where there is mere juxtaposition of national groups. But in 
Europe intermixture was as a rule the result of past conquests, 
political and cultural, which had reduced the original national group 
to a state of social inferiority. Conquests created Ulsters, and over 
further, wider regions spread the network of an 'ascendancy' prim- 
arily based on the landowning classes and the town population, alien 
to, or alienated from, the peasantry which retained its own language 
or religion, or both. Self-government meant, in the earlier stages, the 
rule of the big landowners and their retainers in the countryside, and 
of the upper middle-class and the intelligentsia in the towns; their 
language or religion determined the national character of the 
country (Grattan's Parliament, composed of Anglo-Irish Protestants, 
deemed itself representative of the Irish nation). Hence in the 
numerous Irelands scattered all over Europe turmoil and strife were 
bound to result from the rise of the lower classes, and especially of 
the peasantry, to political consciousness and action. National and 
religious conflicts interlocked with agrarian movements, envenoming 
each other: war was waged for both the national and the personal 
ownership of the land, and either side felt that it was fighting not for 
private interests only. An educated upper class, for centuries accus- 
tomed to consider the country its own, would not easily allow itself 
to be reduced to the position of alien interlopers, while peasants 
rooted in the land, as only they can be, fought the long-drawn battle 



BASIC FACTORS IN igTH-CENTURY EUROPEAN HISTORY 167 

with an obstinacy unsurpassed by any other class. Moreover the 
dominant minority invariably had the backing of its Ulster and of its 
homeland: even under democracy. With the progressive widening of 
the political nation, the unprivileged orders, one by one down the 
social scale, were taking over the quasi-proprietary claims of dynas- 
ties and feudal oligarchies to territorial dominance; they became 
ideological partners or heirs of their quondam rulers, and frequently 
their actual partners by being settled on the land or in government 
posts in the disputed territory. Peasant-settlers planted as a garrison 
to keep down the subject race, school-teachers sent to spread the 
language of the minority, and a host of petty officials, constituted a 
master-nation whose rule was much harder to bear, and more 
galling, than that of a dynasty or of a remote oligarchy. Consider the 
amount of disturbance which during the nineteenth century was 
caused in the political life of this country by an Ireland geographi- 
cally isolated and not subjected to any further encroachments; and 
you can gauge the effect which two dozen Irelands were bound to 
have on the life of nineteenth-century Europe as borderlands between 
contending nations, especially while attempts continued to be made 
to complete conquest and conversion. 

On the European Continent incomplete conquests fell into two 
patterns. The main stream of migrations, which had overrun Europe 
from East to West, was reversed about the eighth century: from 
West to East the French pressed against the Flemings and Germans, 
the Germans against the Lithuanians and Slavs, the Lithuanians and 
Poles against the Russians, and the Russians against the Finnish 
tribes, and ultimately also against the Mongols; each nation was 
yielding ground in the West, and gaining much more at the expense 
of its Eastern neighbours: in the East were wide spaces and a 
reduced capacity for resisting pressure. Similarly the Swedes spread 
across the Baltic, and the Italians across the Adriatic. The Flemish- 
Walloon problem in Belgium and the Franco-German problem in 
Alsace, the numerous problems of Germany's ragged Eastern border, 
Poland's problems both on her Western and on her Eastern flank, 
and the conflict between the Yugoslavs and the Italians, all originate 
in that great West to East shift on the linguistic map of Europe. The 
other pattern of conquests whose consequences were formative of 
nineteenth-century European history, goes back to the continued 
Asiatic incursions, of the Avars, Magyars, and Turks into South- 
Eastern Europe. The Germans met them at the gate of the Danube, 
between the Bohemian quadrilateral and the Alps: this is the origin 
of Austria whose core was the Ostmark round Vienna, with its flank- 



l68 VANISHED SUPREMACIES 

ing mountain bastions and its access to the Adriatic. Germans and 
Magyars in their head-on collision split off the Northern from the 
Southern Slavs and established their dominion over that middle 
zone; and next the subjection of the Southern Slavs and the Rumans 
was completed by the Turkish conquest of the Balkans. 

And now compare the political map of Europe in 1815 with the 
nationality map which forms the approximate basis of the frontiers 
of 1920 and 1945. Practically all the territorial changes occurred in 
Central and East-Central Europe. In 1815, the Germans and the 
Italians, the two most numerous nations in that region, were dis- 
united through dynastic fragmentation. Between them in the West 
and the Russians in the East, thirteen to nineteen smaller nations 
inhabit a belt stretching from Petsamo to Candia (their exact num- 
ber depends on what linguistic divergences or historical differences 
are deemed to constitute a nation): in 1815 all these smaller nations 
were engulfed in the Habsburg and Ottoman Empires, in the 
Eastern fringe of Prussia, and the Western fringe of Russia. But if in 
that year anyone had attempted to draw a nationality map of 
Europe, he would have treated Finland as Swedish; the Baltic pro- 
vinces, all East Prussia and Upper Silesia, and the Czech and 
Slovene provinces of Austria as German; Lithuania, Latgalia, White 
Russia, and the Western Ukraine as Polish; practically all Hungary 
as Magyar; the Austrian Littoral as Italian; and the Christian popu- 
lations of Turkey possibly as Greek. Thus between the Gulf of Fin- 
land and the Turkish border there were only four nations that 
counted; and in 1848 an educated Englishman discoursing on the 
rights of nationality would probably be aware of four problems only 
and of four programs deserving his sympathy: those of German and 
Italian unification, of Hungary's independence, and of Poland's 
resurrection (presumably within the frontiers of 1772), As enemies 
of these programs he would indict the Habsburgs and the Tsar; 
and if later in the year he heard that ignorant peasantries were 
fighting on the side of autocracy against those enlightened 
nations and their eloquent leaders, this would fill him with regret 
and disgust. 

The nationality problem naturally first came up for solution in 
terms of the master nations ; and the main obstacle to three of their 
four programs was the Habsburg dynasty with its prescriptive rights 
and policy: of the Polish Question alone, the origin and gravamen 
lay outside their sphere. No deeper need or conflict had caused 
Austria's participation in the dismemberment of Poland only the 
indiscriminate passion of the Habsburgs for extending their dynastic 



BASIC FACTORS IN igTH-CENTURY EUROPEAN HISTORY 169 

possessions; and this in time gave rise to schemes for a reconstitution 
of Poland under Habsburg dominion. Very different was the 
position of Prussia and Russia with regard to the Polish Question. 
Geographical consolidation was Prussia's primary purpose in the 
Partitions: in West Prussia (the c Corridor' of the inter-war period) 
there was a conflict between the unity of the seaboard and that of 
the Vistula river-basin; and in Posnania Polish territory came within 
seventy miles of Berlin. The Russo-Polish conflict was over White 
Russia and the Western Ukraine, territories almost twice the size of 
ethnic Poland, in which the landowners were Roman Catholic and 
Polish (or Polonized) while the peasants belonged to the Eastern 
Churches and continued to speak Russian dialects: the Poles could 
claim those territories on grounds of nationality so long as peasant- 
serfs politically counted for little more than cattle; but the frontier 
attained by Russia in the Third Partition was in 1919 reproduced 
in the Curzon Line. 

One may well ask how in 1795 the Russians came to draw for 
themselves a frontier correct in the terms of 1919; and the answer 
sounds even more paradoxical: because they did not think in terms 
of nationality, or of the political rights of nations as then constituted. 
They thought in terms of religion, the only ones in which peasant- 
serfs counted; and by and large religion and nationality coincided. 
Thus backward Tsarist Russia jumped the period of the master 
nations, but without being able to destroy the social and economic 
foundatioas of the Polish claims to mastery over the disputed pro- 
vinces: she could not even emancipate the serfs, still less dispossess 
the big landowners for their benefit, while serfdom and latifundia 
were maintained in the rest of Russia; nor could the Poles, in 1848 
the General Staff of the sansculottes of Europe, raise the peasant 
masses against the Tsarist regime, or they would have destroyed 
their own hold on those Eastern borderlands. That incongruity of 
claims and realities, coupled with the impossibility of adjusting them, 
gave a unique turn to the Polish Question at a time when elsewhere 
nationality problems were being solved in terms of the socially and 
culturally dominant nations. 

I pass to the alignment of the European Great Powers and the 
interplay of their interests and policies. What were in 1815 the 
leading dramatis personae on the European stage? Great Britain and 
Russia, Powers flanking Europe, in it but never altogether of it, 
possessed of growing extra-European interests the rising World 
Powers; France and Austria, European Great Powers, whose politi- 
cal ambits covered the entire Continent; and Prussia, the least 



170 VANISHED SUPREMACIES 

among the Great Powers in size and resources, with limited regional 
interests and objectives. 

Even in 1815 Great Britain and Russia were conscious of their 
separation from Europe. Next, England expanded into the Second 
British Empire, which now seems about to combine with the West- 
ern half of the First Empire into an as yet unnamed and ill-defined 
working community of English-speaking nations, centring on 
Washington rather than on London. A similar shift away from 
Europe has transferred Russia's capital from St. Petersburg to Mos- 
cow, a distance not to be measured in miles only, while the centre of 
gravity of Russia's population and production has been moving 
East, toward the Volga and the Urals. Between 1815 and 1914 the 
full weight of these two Powers was seldom felt in Europe, partly 
owing to the dispersal or poor organization of their forces, and partly 
because they seldom actively intervened in European conflicts except 
when the Ottoman Empire was in question, an Asiatic Power which 
in the Eastern Mediterranean held the key position between three 
continents; and then they were usually ranged on opposite sides. 
Similarly in the ideological struggle between constitutional systems 
and autocratic regimes they were opposed to each other. But three 
times in 150 years their forces were joined, first to defeat the French 
bid for dominion over Europe, and next the two German bids; and 
in these German Wars, the United States started by supporting, and 
finished by virtually replacing, Great Britain as the flanking Power in 
the West. Now the English-speaking nations and the U.S.S.R., en- 
gaged in a contest of global dimensions, can hardly be said to flank 
Europe any longer: they face each other in the very centre of Europe 
indeed, what remains of Europe, of its history and its politics? 

On the Continent the game of power politics, in whatever terms 
it was played, normally made a neighbour into an enemy, and there- 
fore the neighbour's neighbour on the opposite flank into an ally. 
Hence the rule of odd and even numbers in international politics: if 
Germany was France's enemy, then Poland was France's ally, and 
consequently Russia the ally of Germany numbers one and three 
against two and four; and even sharp ideological divisions between 
Germany and Russia could not prevent that rule from asserting itself 
in 1922 and 1939. Yet during the first half of the nineteenth century 
there was latent, or even open, hostility between France and Austria 
which had no common frontier, while for a century a frontier of 
more than 500 miles never gave rise to conflict between Prussia and 
Russia. The intervening numbers, Germany and Italy, whose pres- 
sure against France and Austria would have forced them to recog- 



BASIC FACTORS IN I QTH-CENTURY EUROPEAN HISTORY 171 

nize their common interest, were latent; whereas Prussia and Russia 
were acutely conscious of their common interest in Poland, the sup- 
pressed intervening number a frontier across territory whose popu- 
lation is alien and hostile to both neighbours is not apt to produce 
friction between them. 

In 1814-15 the Habsburgs withdrew from Belgium and the 
Rhine, and deliberately divested themselves of responsibility for the 
defence of Germany; while Prussia, which before 1789 had been 
primarily an East European, Baltic Power, was entrusted with the 
* Watch on. the Rhine', and, stretching from Konigsberg to the Saar, 
now covered the entire length of Germany. This redistribution of 
territory predetermined the ultimate exclusion of Austria from Ger- 
many, and Germany's ultimate inclusion in Prussia. But so long as 
Prussia made the 'Watch on the Rhine 9 her foremost duty, and 
deutsche Treue toward Austria her leading principle, she was inter- 
nationally immobilized, and Germany neutralized; and the struggle 
between France and Austria was carried on across the power- 
vacuum of Italy. That struggle, begun when Habsburg possessions 
flanked France both in the East and the West but discontinued 
during the last thirty-three years of the ancien regime, when the 
Bourbons and the Habsburgs recognized that Great Britain, Prussia, 
and Russia had become their real rivals, was renewed by the French 
Revolution and Napoleon, and continued by their epigoni for half 
a century after 1815. 

Austria's existence and Habsburg hegemony over Germany and 
Italy rested on the principle of dynastic property in States; the pre- 
sence of the Habsburgs kept the two countries disunited ; their dis- 
union secured French primacy in Europe; here was a basis for 
Franco-Austrian co-operation. But the French flaunted the principle 
of national sovereignty at Austria: a fit weapon against the Habs- 
burgs, but not an ideological basis for a continuance of French 
power politics. French statesmen and diplomats from Talleyrand to 
Thiers were pro-Austrian, but the current of popular feelings ran 
against Austria till July 1866 when the cry of revanche pour 
Sadova resounded on the Paris boulevards: the intervening numbers 
had emerged. But soon the basis disappeared for a Franco-Austrian 
alliance. Between 1815 and 1894 France had no ally on the 
European Continent, and only one constant friend, the Poles, whose 
friendship was a liability rather than an asset for her; because the 
implied threat, though never real, tended to draw Russia closer 
toward Prussia. 

The co-operation between the Courts of St. Petersburg and Berlin 



172 VANISHED SUPREMACIES 

was based on a human affinity between them, on a common auto- 
cratic ideology, and on the common anti-Polish interest. Berlin, on 
the very fringe of German-speaking territory, and St. Petersburg 
built in Finnish land and given a German name by its Russian 
founder, stood close to the two ends of the Baltic fringe, territory 
conquered in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries by the Teu- 
tonic Knights, and ruled until quite recently by their descendants, 
the Prussian Junkers and the Baltic Barons. These Lutheran Ger- 
mans, makers and servants of the Tsarist regime, and a power under 
it, were alien to Slav and Greek-Orthodox Russia, and averse to 
Pan-Slavism or to constitutional developments which would have 
endangered their own position. They were anti-Polish and friendly 
to Prussia ; elsewhere they worked the power politics of the Russian 
Empire, with little distinctive colouring of their own. 

The European nationality problems raised in 1848 fell almost 
all within the ambit of the Habsburg Empire which would have 
suffered disruption had the programs of the four master nations been 
realized: Western Austria would have been included in a Greater 
Germany, and the Czechs and Slovenes engulfed in it; Lombardy 
and Venetia would have gone to Piedmont; Hungary would have 
achieved independence, and full dominion over its Slovaks, Yugo- 
slavs, Rumans, and Ruthenes; over these the Poles would have 
achieved similar dominion in Galicia. The subject races therefore 
came out on the side of the dynasty against their social and economic 
rulers: in order to prevent that rule from being reinforced by 
political dominion. It was all a phantasmagoria. The Tsar and the 
Bang of Prussia still stood by the Habsburgs on grounds of dynastic 
solidarity; revolutionary forces, which alone could in Germany have 
cut through the dynastic tangle by proclaiming a Republic one and 
indivisible, were lacking; the Prussian-Polish conflict in Posnania 
soon put an end to anti-Russian velleities among the Germans ; Pied- 
mont and the Magyars were not a match for the Habsburg Mon- 
archy supported by Russia and the subject races. The transforma- 
tion, if it was to be, had to be attempted in a different manner. 

The Crimean War lost Austria Russia's support; Napoleon III 
opened up the Italian problem; Bismarck by anti-Polish action in 
1863 secured Russia's friendship. In 1859-67, the Habsburg prob- 
lem was solved in accordance with the modified programs of the 
master races. The Habsburgs were expelled from Lesser Germany 
and Italy, but retained the German and Italian provinces which 
were part of their old hereditary dominions (Erblander) ; Hungary 
achieved complete constitutional independence while remaining 



BASIC FACTORS IN igTH-CENTURY EUROPEAN HISTORY 173 

within the military and international framework of the Habsburg 
Monarchy; and the government of Galicia was handed over to the 
Poles. The Austrian Empire changed into the Dual Monarchy, re- 
built on a German-Magyar-Polish basis; and the subject races were 
delivered to their masters (more completely in Hungary than in 
Western Austria or Galicia). 

In one way Francis- Joseph built better than he knew. To the 
Austrian Germans Western Austria was their heritage, to the Mag- 
yars all Hungary, and to the Poles Galicia., and each of these three 
nations was prepared to fight to the last for every square mile of 
what it considered its own, while the three heritages together covered 
the entire Monarchy. No such community of interest could have 
been found between the dynasty and the subject races. On the other 
hand, the Emperor's conscious calculations miscarried: he con- 
cluded the compromise with the Magyar in the hope of gaining 
their support for future action against Prussia. In 1870 the Austrian 
Germans were not willing to fight on the side of France against 
other Germans, while the Magyars did not wish for a victory which 
would have re-established the dynastic power of the Habsburgs and 
might have enabled them to go back on the Settlement of 1867. The 
logic of the situation defeated Francis- Joseph's schemings. 

If the struggle for supremacy in Germany could not be resumed 
any more, a German- Austrian alliance was in the logic of the situa- 
tion. Austria-Hungary was surrounded by neighbours each of whom 
saw populations of his own language within its borders. The Habs- 
burg Monarchy reconstructed on a German-Magyar basis was a fit 
ally for Germany, while Germany alone had an interest in its sur- 
vival, and could therefore accept an alliance in lieu of complete 
national reunion (in fact, Bismarck did not want the Austrian Ger- 
mans in the Reich, which inclusion would have unfavourably 
affected the balance between the Catholic South and the Protestant 
North). For Germany Austria-Hungary was a more convenient ally 
than Russia, for in such an alliance Austria-Hungary as the weaker 
and more exposed of the two was dependent on Germany, whereas 
Germany would have been dependent on Russia. Moreover Ger- 
many had to count with the possibility that the Power whom she did 
not pick for ally, would become that of France; and as such Austria 
would have been more dangerous because of the appeal she could 
make to the Roman Catholic Germans Bismarck dreaded a 
Roman Catholic league against the Second Reich. Still, Bismarck 
did not mean to tie Germany to Austria-Hungary, nor to cut the 
wire to St. Petersburg. But again the logic of the situation prevailed: 



174 VANISHED SUPREMACIES 

even if Bismarck's successors had been wise and strong men, it seems 
doubtful whether the consequences of an Austrian alliance could 
have been permanently avoided. In 1877 Bismarck, when asked by 
the Russians what his attitude would be in case of a Russian- 
Austrian war, replied that much as he would regret such a war he 
could see either side win or lose battles, but not suffer one of them to 
be knocked out as a Great Power. Obviously he feared Germany 
being left as an isolated intervening number between two Great 
Powers, France and Russia or France and Austria. There was no 
need for Russia to seek a German guarantee for her existence; there 
was for Austria. But once Germany had committed herself to up- 
holding Austria-Hungary's existence, she was moving from the 
Baltic fringe into the Danube Valley and the Balkans; and how 
long could the common anti-Polish and reactionary interest preserve 
Russia's friendship for a Germany which crossed her path in the 
Balkans? 

Here Russia continued her 'historic mission 5 of freeing the Greek- 
Orthodox populations. Of the dominant nations the Turks had the 
weakest social, economic, and administrative hold over their subject 
races; even so, the process of destroying the Ottoman Empire in 
Europe took a hundred years, from the rise of Serbia and the 
liberation of Greece, across the Russo-Turkish War of 1877-8, to the 
Balkan War of 1912. But in that process Russia suffered surprises 
and disappointments; she found Hellenes and Rumans where she 
had merely seen members of the Greek-Orthodox Church; and the 
Bulgars, however pro-Russian in sentiment, from hostility to the 
Serbs twice joined the Germans in accordance with the rule of odd 
and even numbers. By 1914 the Balkan nations were free, and the 
problem of the Greek-Orthodox Serbs and Rumans in the Habs- 
burg Monarchy was now at stake. In 1867, at half-time between 
Vienna and Versailles, the Austrian Empire changed into the Dual 
Monarchy; at the close, the Dual Monarchy broke up into the Suc- 
cession States. But the Russian Empire having collapsed a year 
earlier, its alien Western fringe, too, disintegrated into national 
States. The end of the First World War saw the middle zone of the 
small nations resettled on the basis of linguistic nationality. 

In three regions only, socially and culturally dominant minorities 
retained, or even regained, superiority and possession. The Polish- 
Masurian fringe of East Prussia and about half of Polish Upper 
Silesia were left to the Germans on the strength of plebiscites which 
should never have been held: for there is a nationality in posse no 
less than a nationality in esse, and in these territories the process of 



BASIC FACTORS IN 19TH-CENTURY EUROPEAN HISTORY 175 

national revival, universal in Europe, had not yet reached its natural 
term. On the Adriatic the Italians acquired territory with Yugoslav 
majorities. And the Poles managed, against the decision of the Allied 
and Associated Powers, to substitute the Riga for the Curzon Line. 
All these gains were wiped out by the Second World War. The 
process which formed the essence of European history since the 
French Revolution has now reached its term. 

Looking back, converted though we cannot be to the ancien 
regime, to the 'system Metternich' or to Tsarism, we no longer exult 
over the age of nationality and democracy and its victories. All past 
social superiorities have been wiped out behind the Iron Curtain, 
and most of the cultural values which the educated classes had 
created. Anti-Socialist, clerical peasant communities may yet arise in 
States now satellites of Russia. But a reinstatement of the dispos- 
sessed upper and middle classes is impossible. And it is even more 
idle to think of a reconquest of territories once held on the basis of 
those vanished supremacies. Now territories in Europe can only be 
regained with 'vacant possession 9 : that is, radically cleared of their 
present inhabitants. The process of transfers or exchanges of popula- 
tion was started in the Balkans and Asia Minor at the end of the 
First World War, It was applied by Hitler where it suited him to 
withdraw German, or expel non-German, populations; and it was 
planned on an infinitely greater scale by the Germans had they won 
the war. As they lost it, the process was carried through against 
them. Hence their wrath. 



XII 

THE GERMAN FINALE 
TO AN EPOCH IN HISTORY 



HITLER and the Third Reich were the gruesome and incongruous 
consummation of an age which, as none other, believed in progress 
and felt assured that it was being achieved. The 150 years 1789 
1939 were an era of confident hope and strenuous endeavour, of 
trust in the human mind and In the power of reason. The rights of 
man were to be secured in self-governing democracies, humanized 
by education and increasingly equalitarian; the rights of nations, in 
States recast on the principle of self-determination, national unity, 
and independence. On the European continent language rather than 
territorial tradition, the bond of the intellectuals rather than the 
heritage of rooted communities, became the basis of nationality; the 
age was formed by the intellectuals and the city populations, up- 
rooted men in undiversified surroundings. 

Nationalism became a disruptive force intertwining with social 
radicalism. When in Eastern and Central Europe the war of 1914 
&8 unleashed revolution., the moderate Socialists, heirs and expon- 
/ents of the progressive creed, seemed to come into their own only 
'to succumb, mostly without resistance, to the modern dictators. 
Intellectuals, who had seen themselves as the rational leaders of 
mankind set free by their thought, were to find that the disintegra- 
tion of spiritual values their work to some extent had released 
demoniac forces, beyond control by reason. There was even travesty 
of thought la trahison des clercs. Hitler was the grotesque German 
finale to the epoch. 

Territorially the Habsburg Monarchy and the Ottoman Empire 
were Europe's engrossing problems from 1815 to 1919. Once adver- 
saries, next joined in destiny, they were forced back and finally dis- 
rupted by linguistic nationality. Bismarck thrust the Habsburgs from 



GERMAN FINALE TO AN EPOCH IN HISTORY 177 

the Reich and propped them up on the Danube, to hold and manage 
for the Germans their doubtful assets uncompleted conquests and 
jagged linguistic frontiers in a Monarchy in which the Germans 
were predominant, yet not masters. On the European continent the 
nineteenth century saw a rapid growth of German supremacy, intel- 
lectual, political, military, and economic. Yet linguistic nationality, 
the foundation of Germany's unity and power, was imperilling her 
Austrian 'heritage*. Could her will arrest a European process? This 
was the initial question in 1914. 

Germany in command of Europe would have been a menace to 
the Anglo-Saxon countries. Their intervention decided the issue. The 
Habsburg Monarchy was broken up; Germany and Russia lost their 
alien fringes; territories on the Continent were redistributed on the 
linguistic principle (greed and the intermixture of races permitting). 
The settlement favoured the weak but who in future was to defend 
them against Germany, Russia, and Italy? The United States had 
withdrawn from Europe, the British Empire wished it could do the 
same, while France grew increasingly averse to fighting. The League 
of Nations was but a paper phantom, invoked by France to prevent 
change, and by Britain to effect it by negotiation. Germany and 
Russia were recovering strength: together they might in a measur- 
able time have dominated Europe. 

Then the German scene was transformed by the entry of Hitler: 
never before had a man so malignant attained such power, nor a 
nation shown so little revulsion from evil. Crude and hysterical, full 
of virulent hatreds and envy, he powerfully appealed to the Ger- 
mans, and set about doing their work in Europe. He knew the war- 
weariness of his generation, and with gangster-like audacity traded 
on it: first he took risks, and then he practised blackmail. Each time 
he raised his stakes, and each time he won. Every man, says Machia- 
velli, has but one method, and when it suits the circumstances we 
speak of good luck. Hitler had shrewd skill but no wisdom; with 
him there was no appealing to reason or even to rational interests 
which fact men like Chamberlain were slow to grasp. Nor was there 
in him a conscious control of his own moves; hence he appeared 
incalculable and chaotic. 

Yet a study of pre-igi4 Vienna and of the Bohemian Pan- 
Germans, by giving the background to Hitler's confused political 
thinking, might have supplied a clue to his actions. He remained an 
Austrian, and to the Austrian Germans, in contradistinction to the 
Prussians, Russia was the enemy and the Poles were acceptable 
partners. Vienna was not interested in the sea or in colonies. The 



178 VANISHED SUPREMACIES 

Bohemian Pan-Germans despised the Habsburgs and Austria, 
adored Prussia, and revelled in the glories of 1870. That Hitler 
would attempt the Anschluss was obvious. But to the Great-Germans 
of 1848 and the Pan-Germans of 1898 'German Austria 3 included 
the Czech and Slovene provinces, and it was unthinkable that Hitler 
should permanently renounce Prague. He set out to reconstruct a 
Greater Germany, next a Mittel-Eurbpaand then? He had none 
of the realist restraint of the Prussian Junker, but a truly German 
Masslosigkeit lack of measure and balance. 

At no time did Hitler treat Munich as the close of his conquests. 
On the way to Munich he explained to Mussolini the need of reduc- 
ing Czechoslovakia which otherwise, in a war against France, would 
immobilize forty German divisions. At Munich Ribbentrop talked 
to Ciano of a Triple Alliance with Japan. Hitler, on his return from 
Munich, ordered plans to be prepared for Czechoslovakia's final 
liquidation. He was not interested in the trappings and tinsel of 
Munich: a fortnight later, in his Saarbriicken speech, he attacked 
England. He expected France to keep out of Eastern and Central 
Europe. He offered to accept Poland as a satellite into his system, 
limiting his demands to Danzig and an extra-territorial line of com- 
munications across the Corridor. His immediate purpose was not 
necessarily joint action against Russia; on the Schlieffen principle 
he might have first turned against the West. Had he pressed his 
demand for Danzig before entering Prague, one may well wonder 
what would have been the reaction of the 'men of Munich'. 

Prague was a blunder; Hitler's method ceased to suit circum- 
stances, and he did not understand England. After Prague he pressed 
his * offer' on Poland with greatly sharpened insistence, still hoping 
that she would agree. Poland's refusal, followed by her acceptance 
of a British guarantee, made Hitler order plans to be prepared for an 
attack on Poland: as she would not cover his flank in a war against 
the West, she had to be liquidated first. The final dispositions were 
made on 23 May 1939, the day after the signing of the 'Pact of 
Steel' with Italy. 

His aim was now to isolate Poland. The Western Powers were 
negotiating with the Soviet Union. Between 23 and 26 May a dis- 
patch was drafted in Berlin with a frank offer to Russia ; it was not 
sent. But two months later Hitler reverted to the idea. He expected 
the Ribbentrop-Molotov agreement of 23 August to deter the 
Western Powers from supporting Poland. The attack was ordered 
for the 26th, but revoked when the news of the signing of the Anglo- 
Polish agreement of 25 August reached Hitler. 



GERMAN FINALE TO AN EPOCH IN HISTORY 179 

The attitude of the British Government was conciliatory but firm. 
Attempts to stage a second Munich failed. The declaration of war 
on 3 September 1939 is one of the great turning-points of history, 
and should be remembered in awe and gratitude. At the last moment 
Britain, though fully conscious of the mortal danger she was facing 
and of her own weakness, called a halt to a process which had gone 
much too far, and which, had 'Hitler pulled off his trick once more, 
would have subjected all Europe, and perhaps ultimately the world, 
to Nazi Germany. 

In the end it was the entry into the war of the two great extra- 
European Powers, the Soviet Union, attacked by Germany, and the 
United States, attacked by Japan, which decided the issue. And 
when their armies met on 25 April 1945 at Torgau, in the heart of 
Germany and the centre of the European Continent, the victory was 
won and the century of German preponderance in Europe had 
reached its term. So, too, had the supremacy of Europe in the 
world. 




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